• Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

Charles Sobhraj, a French serial killer, has been released from a Nepalese prison.

ByJosh Taylor

Dec 23, 2022

Charles Sobhraj, a French serial murderer responsible for many deaths of young foreigners around Asia in the 1970s, was released from a Nepali jail on Friday, according to an AFP reporter.
Sobhraj, 78, whose life was depicted in the popular television series “The Serpent,” was to be moved to immigration custody ahead of his scheduled deportation to France, according to police.
The deportation was ordered by Nepal’s highest court on Wednesday, but his counsel hinted on Thursday that it may be postponed due to health concerns.
“Once he is transported to immigration, it will be decided what his future steps should be. He has a cardiac condition and want to be treated at the Gangalal hospital,” Gopal Shiwakoti Chintan told reporters.
After completing more than three-quarters of his sentence for murdering two North Americans in Nepal in the 1970s, the court approved Sobhraj’s release on health grounds.
On Thursday, a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry told AFP that the French embassy in Nepal was keeping an eye on the situation.
“If a request for deportation is made, France is obligated to approve it since Mr Sobhraj is a French national.”
‘Bikini assassin’
Sobhraj, who was born in Saigon to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother who subsequently married a Frenchman, went on an international criminal career and eventually ended up in Thailand in 1975.
He would pose as a gem seller and befriend his victims, many of whom were Western hikers on the hippy path in the 1970s, before drugging, robbing, and killing them.
Suave and intelligent, he was charged in 1975 with the murder of a young American woman whose body was discovered on a beach wearing a bikini.
He was dubbed the “bikini murderer” after being linked to more than 20 deaths.
He was captured in India in 1976 and was imprisoned for 21 years, with a brief respite in 1986 when he drugged prison guards and fled. He was apprehended in the Indian state of Goa.
Sobhraj was released in 1997 and resided in Paris, giving paid interviews to journalists until returning to Nepal in 2003.
He was later detained after being discovered in a casino playing baccarat by journalist Joseph Nathan, one of the Himalayan Times’ founders.
“He appeared to be innocuous… It was pure chance that I recognised him “Nathan stated to AFP on Thursday. “I believe that was karma.”
The next year, a Nepalese court sentenced him to life in prison for the 1975 murder of US tourist Connie Jo Bronzich. He was also convicted guilty of murdering Bronzich’s Canadian friend a decade later.
Behind jail, Sobhraj maintained his innocence in both deaths, claiming he had never travelled to Nepal prior to the journey that led to his arrest.
“I truly didn’t do anything, and I think I’ll get released,” he told AFP during an interview at Kathmandu’s Central Jail in 2007.
Thai police officer Sompol Suthimai, whose collaboration with Interpol was critical in obtaining the 1976 arrest, had advocated for him to be deported to Thailand and convicted for murders there.
However, he told AFP on Thursday that he did not protest to his release since both he and the criminal he formerly sought were now too elderly.
“I don’t have any sentiments for him now because it’s been so long,” Suthimai, 90, explained. “I believe he has already paid the price for his deeds.”

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