PARIS (AP) — Charles Sobraj, a murderer convicted of murdering at least 20 tourists across Asia in the 1970s, was released Saturday after being released from a life sentence in a Nepalese prison. Arrived in Paris as a person.
This was the latest twist on the dramatic life trajectory that aired last year in a series co-produced by BBC and Netflix called The Serpent. In the past, he has admitted to killing Western tourists around Asia.
“I’m fine. I’m happy,” he told the Associated Press in a short call after arriving at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport. “We’ll have lunch.”
Sobhraj, a 78-year-old French citizen who had served time for an American and Canadian backpacker who died in Nepal in 1975, was released on Friday due to health and other reasons.
His French lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, told the AP that Sobhraj challenged his beliefs in Nepal, calling him an “optimist” and resilience after nearly two decades in prison. I explained that there is
French filmmaker Jean-Charles Deniot, who escorted Sobraj from the Paris airport and has published a film and book about his life, said: he has medicine He lives in Paris and lives everywhere. ”
The French government asked for comment on whether he could face judicial challenges in France, but did not receive a response. claim.
He is believed to have killed at least 20 people in Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Turkey, Nepal, Iran and Hong Kong between 1972 and 1982.
But despite multiple lawsuits being filed against him, judicial authorities across the region struggled to either convict him of the murder or keep him in prison.
He was arrested in New Delhi in 1976 for murdering two tourists and stealing jewelry. He was convicted of theft but acquitted of murder. In Thailand, he was found guilty of his 14 murders. He remained in the Indian courts until the Thai case was closed in 1996, evading his extradition. In Thailand he faced the death penalty.
In 1986, he escaped from New Delhi’s high-security Tihar Prison after luring the guards out to give him a drug-laced birthday cake, but was later recaptured.
In 1997, he was deported from India to France, where he was living free, until he was questioned on suspicion of poisoning a group of French tourists in India.
He resurfaced in a casino in the Nepalese city of Kathmandu in 2003 and was questioned about the unsolved murder of American and Canadian backpackers whose charred bodies were found on the outskirts of the city. He was convicted the following year and sentenced to life in prison.
Sobhraj has spoken of killing other tourists in the past, in which case he has claimed his innocence. When released from his Indian prison, he said he regrets aspects of his past.
Life imprisonment in Nepal is 20 years. In announcing his release this week, Nepal’s Supreme Court said he was eligible for release because he had a heart condition, had already served more than 75% of his sentence and behaved well in prison. I was.
He was released on Friday and ordered to leave Nepal within 15 days. His friend Gopal Siwakoti Chitan, his lawyer, said he helped finance a plane ticket to France and the French embassy prepared travel documents allowing him to leave the country.
His French lawyer welcomed his release. “I am very happy, but very shocked that it took 19 years to get normal freedom,” Coutamper said at the airport. ‘s conviction was a “fabricated case” and the French government did not do enough to help or defend him.
She said Sobhraj watched “The Serpent” series and said, “First and foremost it’s garbage and 70% of it is completely false.”
The series notably follows how Dutch diplomat Hermann Knippenberg launches an international investigation into the alleged murder of Sobraj.
His nickname “Snake” derives from his reputation as an artist of disguise and escape. He was also known as the “Bikini Killer” because he often targeted young women.
Contributed by Binaj Gurubacharya from Kathmandu, Nepal.