‘Bikini Killer’ Charles Sobhraj to be released from Nepal prison today

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said the French embassy in Nepal was closely monitoring the situation.


French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, responsible for multiple murders of young foreigners in Asia in the 1970s, will be released from prison on Friday, prison authorities and his lawyers said.

Sobhraj, 78, whose life was chronicled in the successful Netflix/BBC series Viper, will be deported to France within 15 days, according to a Nepalese court ruling.

But his lawyer, Gopal Shiwakoti Chintan, told reporters on Thursday that he was expected to be taken to Nepal’s immigration department after his initial release.

“Once he is brought to the Immigration Department, it will be decided what the next step is. He has a heart condition, so he wants to be treated at Gangalal Hospital,” the lawyer said.

“But what actually happens will be decided after he arrives at the immigration office.”

The Supreme Court ordered Sobhraj, who underwent heart surgery in 2017, to be released on health grounds after serving more than three-quarters of his sentence for the murder of two North Americans in Nepal in the 1970s.

But his release from Kathmandu jail on Thursday was delayed by legal and logistical issues.

Chintan said Sobhraj told him he “wouldn’t mind spending an extra night in jail”.

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry told AFP that the French embassy in Nepal was monitoring the situation.

“If they were notified of the deportation request, France would be required to approve it, as Mr Sobhraj is a French national.”

bikini killer

Born in Saigon to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother who married French, Sobhraj began an international criminal career and came to Thailand in 1975.

Posing as a gem dealer, he befriended his victims, many of them Western backpackers on the hippie trails of the 1970s, before drugging, robbing and murdering them.

Suave and worldly, he was involved in his first murder in 1975, the body of a young American woman found in a bikini on a beach.

Nicknamed “The Bikini Killer,” he was eventually linked to more than 20 murders.

He was arrested in India in 1976, where he ended up spending 21 years behind bars, before escaping in 1986 and being re-arrested in the Indian coastal state of Goa.

Sobhraj was released in 1997, lived in Paris, gave paid interviews to journalists, but returned to Nepal in 2003.

He was soon spotted playing baccarat in a casino by journalist Joseph Nathan, one of the founders of the Himalayan Times, and was arrested at the casino.

“He looked harmless … I was so lucky to recognize him,” Nathan told AFP on Thursday. “I think it was karma.”

The following year, a Nepalese court sentenced him to life in prison for the 1975 murder of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich. A decade later, he was also found guilty of killing Brunzic’s Canadian companion.

In prison, Sobhraj maintained his innocence for both murders and claimed he had never been to Nepal before the trip that led to his arrest.

“I really didn’t do it, I thought I’d be out,” he told AFP in an interview in Kathmandu Central Prison in 2007.

Thai police officer Sompol Suthimai, who worked with Interpol and was instrumental in securing Sobhraj’s arrest in 1976, pushed for his extradition to Thailand to stand trial for the murders he committed there.

But he told AFP on Thursday that he had no objection to the release because he and the criminals he once hunted are now too old.

“It’s been so long now that I don’t feel anything for him. I think he has paid for his actions,” said Suthimai, 90.

(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)

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