These are the first words of the French serial killer since his release this Friday morning. ” I’m doing well. I have a lot to do and I have to sue people. Including in Nepal”, confided to a journalist Charles Sobhraj, in the plane which takes him to France, after being released from his Nepalese prison where he was imprisoned for nearly 20 years for several murders. Asked if he had been wrongly portrayed as a serial killer, he replied “yes! Yes ! describing himself as “innocent” of the murders committed in Nepal.
“When I entered prison, I had done nothing,” he said. “I am innocent in all these cases, okay? So I don’t have to feel bad or good about it. I am innocent. Everything was 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. Nepal’s Supreme Court, which ruled on his release on Wednesday, said Charles Sobhraj needed open-heart surgery and the move was in line with a Nepalese law allowing the release of bedridden prisoners who have already served three-quarters of 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 Charles Sobhraj bulletproof vests, wearing a medical mask, a brown hat and a blue coat, the serial killer had made no comment to the crowd of journalists waiting for him on his release from prison. . “The government of Nepal wants to return him as soon as possible. Sobhraj wants it too, ”said his lawyer Gopal Shiwakoti Chintan, who said he had taken a ticket for him on Qatar Airways, leaving at 6 p.m. local time.
“He despised backpackers, poor young drug addicts”
The serial killer was originally scheduled to be released on Thursday but his release was delayed by a day due to logistical and legal issues. Before the announcement of his transfer, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs had indicated that France would welcome him if an extradition request was “notified” to him.
In this case, “France would be required to do so since Sobhraj is a French national”, explained a spokesperson for this ministry. 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 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. Dubbed the “bikini killer” in 1975 after the body of an American woman clad in a single bikini was discovered on a beach in Pattaya, Thailand, the 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, marked by a brief 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 murdering Bronzich’s Canadian companion. 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 a diabolical murderer”.