Crime & Justice

Nepal releases serial killer Charles Sobhraj, to deport him to France

Kathmandu, Dec 23 (EFE).- French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, dubbed “the serpent,” was on Friday released in Nepal and sent to the immigration department for his impending depoeration to France, after spending more than two decades in prison following his conviction for killing two tourists in the 1970s.

Sobhraj was set to be released on Thursday evening, but was held back by the prison authorities at the last minute, despite the Supreme Court ordering his immediate release and deportation on Wednesday.

The court exempted the killer from the rest of his sentence on an appeal by his defense, based on a Nepali legal provision for convicts of advanced age.

Now the French citizen is fulfilling the paperwork for leaving the country.

“If the government arranges his travel documents, including plane tickets, Sobhraj may return to his country today,” Sobhraj’s lawyer Gopal Siwakoti Chitan told EFE on Friday.

“The immigration officials have said to us that they would fast-track the process,” said the lawyer, adding that the only remaining factor for Sobhraj to be deported on Friday was the availability of flight tickets.

Siwakoti said that Sobhraj had asked to remain in Nepal for a few days for medical checkups and meet his family, but this was denied as “the country’s law doesn’t allow such privileges, except for medical emergencies, for the foreign citizens who have completed the life sentence.”

Once sent back to France, the so-called “bikini killer” – due to being linked to the murders of women found wearing bikinis – would not be allowed to enter the Himalayan nation again.

Sobhraj, who was born in 1944 in Saigon, French Indochina (modern day Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam), was nicknamed “the Serpent” for his ability to change his identity using his victims’ documents

He was accused of more than 20 murders – most of them involving backpacking foreign tourists – in Thailand, India, and Nepal in the 1970s, although only a handful have ever been proven.

Sobhraj was arrested in India in July 1976 for poisoning a group of French tourists and was later imprisoned for the murder of a French national.

After 20 years in prison in India, he managed to escape in 1986 from Tihar jail by drugging his prison guards, but was later recaptured in the coastal state of Goa.

Sobhraj was released in 1997 and returned to France, where he lived until 2003, before he returned to Nepal and was arrested by the authorities there on an outstanding murder charge relating to the 1975 killing of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich.

After being handed a life sentence for Bronzich’s murder, he was subsequently convicted in 2014 of killing her Canadian friend Laurent Carriere.

Sobhraj’s story has fascinated the media ever since it broke in the late 1970s.

The latest account of his life was aired in the recent BBC/Netflix series “The Serpent” in 2021. EFE


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