By: Jenifer Nike
Charles Sobhraj, a convicted killer who police believe killed more than 20 western backpackers on the “hippie trail” through Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, returned to France on Saturday after nearly two decades behind bars in Nepal.by Janifer Nike
‘The Serpent’ serial killer Charles Sobhraj returns to France
Charles Sobhraj, a convicted killer who police believe killed more than 20 western backpackers on the “hippie trail” through Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, returned to France on Saturday after nearly two decades behind bars in Nepal.
Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the release of Sobhraj, known as the “bikini killer” in Thailand, and ‘The Serpent” for his evasion of police, on Wednesday citing his advanced age and health.
On Friday, he was released and put on a flight at Kathmandu airport to take him to Paris via Doha. While on the flight to Doha, he insisted to an AFP journalist that he was “innocent.”
Sobhraj’s life was chronicled in the series “The Serpent,” co-produced by Netflix and the BBC.
Posing as a gem trader, he would befriend his victims, many of them Western backpackers on the 1970s hippie trail, before drugging, robbing and murdering them.
“I feel great… I have a lot to do. I have to sue a lot of people. Including the state of Nepal,” Sobhraj told AFP on Friday onboard the plane.
He was spotted in a casino playing baccarat by journalist Joseph Nathan, one of the founders of the Himalayan Times newspaper, and arrested.
“He looked harmless… It was sheer luck that I recognized him,” Nathan told AFP on Thursday.
“I think it was karma.”
A court in Nepal handed Sobhraj a life sentence the following year for killing U.S. tourist Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975. A decade later, he was also found guilty of killing Bronzich’s Canadian companion.
Talking to AFP among bemused fellow Qatar Airways passengers on Friday, Sobhraj insisted he was innocent of the killings in Nepal.
“The courts in Nepal, from (the) district court to high court to supreme court, all the judges, they were biased against Charles Sobhraj,” he said.
“I am innocent in those cases, OK? So I don’t have to feel bad for that, or good. I am innocent. It was built on fake documents,” he added.
Thai police officer Sompol Suthimai — whose work with Interpol was instrumental in securing the 1976 arrest — had pushed for Sobhraj to be extradited to Thailand and tried for murders there.
But Thursday, Sompol told AFP he did not object to the release, as both he and the criminal he once pursued were now too old.
“I don’t have any feelings towards him now that it’s been so long,” said Sompol, 90.
“I think he has already paid for his actions.”