Serial killer Charles “The Snake” Sobhraj released from prison in Nepal

(CNN) — Charles Sobhraj, the infamous French serial killer who inspired the award-winning television series “The Serpent,” walked free from a Nepali prison on Friday.

“Sobhraj was released from prison. He was handed over to the immigration department. Immigration department officials informed us that he would be deported back to France soon, today,” Ishwari Prasad Pandey, an officer at Nepal’s Central Prison, told CNN.


Charles Sobhraj is escorted by Nepalese police at a district court for a hearing in a case involving the murder of Canadian backpacker Laurent Ormond Carriere, in Bhaktapur on June 12, 2014. Credit: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

Sobhraj, 78, was serving a life sentence in Nepal for the 1975 killing of two tourists, but many of his alleged killings remain unsolved.

He was released after Nepal’s highest court ordered his release on Wednesday for reasons of age and health. He suffers from heart disease and needs open heart surgery, according to the court.

Local officials said they were arranging for Sobhraj’s immediate deportation, which could take place as early as Friday.

“We are working to gather all the necessary travel documents to deport Sobhraj to France,” Pradarshani Kumari, acting director general of Nepal’s immigration department, told CNN, adding that “it could happen today (Friday), it could take a few days “.

charles sobhraj

Sobhraj before the Kathmandu District Court on September 22, 2003. Credit: Devendra M Singh/AFP/Getty Images

“The court order is to send him to his country of origin within 15 days. We are working to deport him based on that time frame. He will remain under the supervision of the Nepalese government until he leaves by plane. We are working with the Ministry of Interior to ensure their safety,” Kumari added.

The official said the department is in close contact with the French embassy in Kathmandu.

Born in Saigon, Vietnam, under French administration, Sobhraj was first jailed in Paris in 1963 for robbery, but was later accused of committing crimes in a list of countries: France, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Thailand and Malaysia.

He also escaped from prison in several countries, and his propensity to evade the authorities earned him the nickname “The Serpent”.

According to his biographers, Sobhraj went on to admit to at least 12 killings between 1972 and 1976, and hinted at others to interviewers before retracting his confessions before appearing in court. The actual number of victims is unknown.

In 2014, a Nepalese court sentenced Sobhraj to 20 years in prison for the 1975 murder of Canadian tourist Laurent Carrière.

The 2021 BBC and Netflix drama titled “The Serpent” is based on the story of the alleged Sobhraj murders. It tells how for years he evaded the law in Asia while allegedly drugging, robbing and murdering backpackers on the so-called “hippie trail” while former Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg collaborated with the authorities to capture him.

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