Published on : Modified :
Frenchman Charles Sobhraj, convicted of murder and considered a serial killer in 1970s Asia, was on his way to France on Friday after being released from prison in Nepal, where he spent almost 20 years in detention.
French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who committed several murders across Asia in the 1970s and inspired the Netflix series “The Serpent”, was released from prison in Nepal on Friday December 23 and immediately transferred to France, where he is expected on Saturday morning.
On the plane, Charles Sobhraj, 78, spoke with the AFP journalist, to whom he said he was “innocent”.
“I’m fine. I have a lot of things to do. I have to sue many people, including in Nepal,” he said in this exclusive interview with AFP. Asked if he had been wrongly portrayed as a serial killer, he exclaimed, “Yes! Yes!”
“When I entered prison, I had done nothing,” he said. “I’m innocent in all these cases, ok? So I don’t have to feel bad or good about it. I’m innocent. It’s all been built on false documents.”
“The judge, without questioning any witness (…) and without allowing the accused to present any argument, wrote the verdict,” he added.
The plane in which he took place with the AFP journalist is expected in Paris, via Doha, on Saturday morning.
open heart surgery
Nepal’s Supreme Court, which ruled on his release on Wednesday, said Charles Sobhraj needed open-heart surgery and that the decision was in line with a Nepalese law allowing the release of bedridden prisoners who have already served three-quarters of their time. their pain.
She ordered that the serial killer, imprisoned in this Himalayan republic since 2003 for the murder of two North American tourists, be deported within 15 days to France.
Framed by police wearing bulletproof vests, 78-year-old Charles Sobhraj, wearing a medical mask, brown hat and blue coat, made no comment to the crowd of reporters waiting for him on his way out from prison.
He was transported in a police van to Kathmandu airport, where he was to fly to France.
“The government of Nepal wants to send him back as soon as possible. Sobhraj wants it too,” said his lawyer, Gopal Shiwakoti Chintan, who got him a ticket on Qatar Airways, leaving at 6:00 p.m. (12:15 GMT). “The French Embassy brings him his travel document,” he added.
The serial killer was originally scheduled to be released on Thursday but due to logistical and legal issues, his release was delayed by a day.
Before the announcement of his transfer, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had for its part made it known that France would welcome him if an extradition request was “notified to him”. In this case, “France would be required to do so since Charles Sobhraj is a French national”, explained a spokesperson for this ministry.
Forty years in prison
A French citizen of Vietnamese and Indian descent, Charles Sobhraj began traveling the world in the early 1970s and found himself in the Thai capital, Bangkok. Posing as a dealer in gems, he befriended his victims, often Western backpackers on the trail of 1970s hippies, before drugging, robbing and murdering them. “He despised backpackers, poor young drug addicts. He saw himself as a criminal hero,” Australian journalist Julie Clarke, who interviewed him, told AFP in 2021.
Nicknamed the “bikini killer”, this suave and sophisticated man has been linked to more than 20 murders. Charles Sobhraj’s other nickname, “The Serpent”, comes from his ability to assume other identities to escape justice. It became the title of a hit series made by the BBC and Netflix which is inspired by his life.
Arrested in India in 1976, he spent 21 years behind bars, before managing to briefly escape in 1986 after drugging prison guards. He was eventually recaptured in the Indian state of Goa.
Released in 1997, he retired to Paris but resurfaced in 2003 in Nepal, where he was spotted in the tourist district of Kathmandu and arrested.
The following year, a court sentenced him to life in prison for the 1975 murder of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich. Ten years later, he was also found guilty of the murder of the Canadian companion of this young woman.
Nadine Gires, a Frenchwoman who lived in the same building as Charles Sobhraj in Bangkok, told AFP last year that she initially found him to be a “cultured” and impressive character. But in the end, “he was not just a trickster, a seducer, a thief of tourists, but an evil murderer”.