The French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, 78, known as “the Serpent”, arrived in France on Saturday December 24, after spending nineteen years in the jails of Kathmandu, Nepal. Sentenced for the murder of two North American tourists and suspected of having killed around twenty people in the 1970s in Asia, he landed at Roissy – Charles-de-Gaulle airport, in Paris, aboard a plane from Doha, Qatar.
Charles Sobhraj was immediately taken care of by the police, noted a journalist from Agence France-Presse (AFP) who was traveling with him. After “identity checks”he discreetly left the airport, we learned from an airport source.
On the plane taking him to Doha, where he arrived in transit on Friday evening, the septuagenarian assured the AFP journalist that he was « innocent » crimes with which he is charged:
“I am innocent in all these cases (…) Everything was built on false documents. I have a lot of things to do. I have to sue many people including the State of Nepal. The judge, without questioning any witnesses (…) and without allowing the accused to present the slightest argument, wrote the verdict (…). All the judges were biased. »
“It took more than nineteen years for him to regain his freedom and I am very happy and very shocked”commented to the press his French lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who came to pick him up at the airport. “He was unjustly sentenced on a file fabricated with documents falsified by the Nepalese police. It’s a scandal, he is presented as a serial killer, which is completely false “she added.
More than half of his life in prison
The Supreme Court of Nepal decided on the release of Charles Sobhraj on Wednesday. She claimed he needed open-heart surgery and that his decision was in line with a law allowing the release of bedridden prisoners who have already served three-quarters of their sentence. She ordered that he be deported within fifteen days to France.
Framed by police, Charles Sobhraj, wearing a medical mask, had made no comment to the crowd of journalists who awaited him on his release from prison.
Before the announcement of his transfer, the Quai d’Orsay had made it known that France would welcome him if a request for extradition was made to him. “notified”.
A French citizen with a Vietnamese mother and an Indian father, Charles Sobhraj began traveling the world in the early 1970s and found himself in the Thai capital, Bangkok. Posing as a dealer in precious stones, he befriended his victims, often Western backpackers, before drugging, robbing and murdering them. “He despised backpackers, poor young drug addicts. He saw himself as a criminal hero.confided in 2021 to AFP the Australian journalist Julie Clarke, who interviewed him.
He was first dubbed the “bikini killer” in 1975 after the body of an American woman clad in a single bikini was discovered on a Thai beach. His other nickname, “the Serpent”, comes from his ability to assume other identities to escape justice.
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He escaped several times from the police, but in July 1976, after having tried to intoxicate a group of French tourists in New Delhi, he was arrested and imprisoned in the Indian capital. Justice condemns him to twelve years in prison, not for his attempted murder, but for having attempted to steal jewels. As his release date approaches, Charles Sobhraj escapes from prison, disguised as a guard. He was apprehended in Goa and sentenced to an additional ten years in prison. The maneuver allowed him not to be extradited to Thailand, where he risked the death penalty.
In April 1997, at the end of his sentence, New Delhi expelled him to France. He spends six years between interviews and negotiations for the rights to adapt his life on screen. “The Serpent” has become a crime star. It even became the title of a hit series made by the BBC and Netflix which was inspired by his life. But, too sure of himself, he returned to Nepal in 2003, where he was wanted for the murder of two North American tourists. He was arrested and sentenced to twenty years in prison. In total, he will have spent more than half of his life in prison.