Crime & Justice

‘The Serpent’, ‘70s serial killer released from Nepalese prison

Kathmandu, Dec 22 (EFE).- French convicted murderer Charles Sobhraj, who is suspected of being involved in the murders of at least 20 backpackers in Asia during the 1970s, was set to be released on Thursday from a Nepalese jail.

Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the release of Sobhraj, known as “the Serpent” or the “Bikini Killer”, after nearly two decades behind bars. He is expected to be extradited to France.

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

Sobhraj was known as the “Bikini Killer” in Thailand, where he was suspected of the murders of several women wearing bikinis when their bodies were found.

According to his biographers Richard Neville and Julie Clarke, Sobhraj was involved in several international scams early in the 1960s before moving into drug dealing and gemstone trafficking.

He was accused of more than 20 murders in Thailand, India, and Nepal, 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. He was later recaptured in the coastal state of Goa.

The escape earned him a new conviction just as he was due to be extradited to Thailand, where he would have faced a potential death sentence.

He 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.

He was subsequently convicted in 2014 of killing her Canadian friend Laurent Carriere.

Nepal has ordered his release citing a provision that grants exemptions to convicts over the age of 75 as well as for good behavior, his lawyers have claimed.

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

Three biographical books about his crimes were published which led to the first television series in 1989.

His escape from Tihar prison was taken to the big screen in 2015 with the Bollywood production “Main Aur Charles” (‘Me and Charles’).

The latest account of Sobhraj’s life was the recent BBC/Netflix series “The Serpent” in 2021.EFE


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