PARIS: Charles Sobhraj, a convicted killer who police believe murdered more than 20 western backpackers on the “hippie trail” through Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, arrived in France on Saturday after nearly two decades behind bars in Nepal, BFM TV reported.
Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the release of Sobhraj, known as the “bikini killer” in Thailand, and “The Serpent” for his evasion of police, earlier this week on health grounds.
A lawyer for Sobhraj in France did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Here are some facts about Sobhraj:
- Sobhraj, 78, was born to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother. Associates have described him as a con artist, a seducer, a robber and a murderer.
- Thailand issued a warrant for the arrest of Sobhraj in the mid-1970s on charges of drugging and killing six women, all wearing bikinis, on a beach at Pattaya. He was, however, jailed in India before he could stand trial on those charges.
- Sobhraj was sentenced in India to 21 years in jail on murder charges. Adept at changing his appearance, he earned another moniker, “the serpent”, after his escape from prison there in the mid-1980s. He was caught and returned to jail until 1997.
- Sobhraj returned to France following his release in India. In 2003 he was arrested at a casino in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and convicted of murdering American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich.
- Sobhraj denied killing the American woman, whose body was found in a wheat field near the Nepali capital. His lawyers said the charge against him was based on assumption. Several years later he was also found guilty of killing Bronzich’s Canadian friend, Laurent Carriere. He had been held in a high-security jail in Kathmandu since 2003.
- Sobhraj’s alleged crimes across Asia have spawned books and at least one movie. Last year, the BBC and Netflix jointly produced a series dramatizing his crimes.
- Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered his release due to his age. He had served 19 years of his 20-year sentence.