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Charles Sobhray, the killer known as the Serpent, will be released from prison

Charles Sobhray, the killer known as the Serpent, will be released from prison

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Charles Sobhray, the notorious 78-year-old French killer convicted of killing backpackers on Asia’s ‘hippie trail’ in the 1970s, is to be released from a Nepalese prison after serving 19 years a murder conviction, the country’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday.

Sobhray had almost served his 20-year sentence in Nepal, where he was convicted of the 1975 murders of American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich and her Canadian companion, Laurent Carrier.

The convicted murderer, nicknamed “The Snake” by some due to his frequent evasion of police and use of disguises, is accused of more than a dozen murdersbut was found guilty of only the two in Nepal.

Judges ordered Sobhraj’s release within days based on his old age, good behavior and length of jail time already served, according to a ruling issued by Nepal’s Supreme Court. The judges noted that the convicted killer also suffered from heart disease, which is expected to require open-heart surgery.

“His prolonged imprisonment violates the standard human rights of prisoners,” the court ruled, adding: “If his detention is not otherwise required, he should be released from prison today and necessary arrangements should be made to send him to return to his country within 15 days.

Lokbhakta Rana, Sobhray’s lawyer, told The Washington Post on Thursday that he congratulated the judges for their “very brave decision” to order his immediate release.

“Actually, I really didn’t expect it. But it is the right decision,” added Rana. “No one wanted to release him.”

“He was tried according to the law, he was imprisoned according to the law and he was released according to the law.

Rana said he expects his client to be released from prison in Nepal within two weeks and return to France, where his lawyer says he has citizenship.

Sobhray spent 21 years in prison in India since 1976 after being convicted of theft. After an escape attempt in 1986, just as his original sentence was due to expire, Sobhray was recaptured and returned to prison, where he faced an extended sentence.

According to an Associated Press report from the same yearSobhraj was wanted during his recapture in Nepal, Singapore, Greece, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Turkey and Iran for crimes ranging from car theft to drugging, robbery and the murder of young couples he had befriended.

The extension of Sobhray’s sentence due to his escape attempt meant at the time of his eventual release from prison in 1997, an extradition request from Thailand, where he was wanted for 14 murders and faced the death penalty, lapsed due to a 20-year statute of limitations, an AP report noted at the time.

For reasons that remain unclear, Sobhraj returned to Nepal, where he was wanted by the police for murder. In 2003, he was spotted in a casino in Kathmandu by a reporter for The Himalayan Timesarrested and eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His life has been the subject of numerous dramatizations – including ‘The Serpent’, a 2021 Netflix and BBC drama series.


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