Charles Sobhraj: French serial killer ‘The Serpent’ released from Nepali jail

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Charles Sobhraj, the infamous French serial killer who inspired the award-nominated TV series “The Serpent,” walked free from a Nepali prison Friday.

“Sobhraj has been released from the jail. He has been handed over to the immigration department. The officials at the immigration department informed us that he would be deported to France soon, as early as today,” Ishwari Prasad Pandey, an official at Nepal Central prison told CNN.

Sobhraj, aged 78, had been serving a life sentence in Nepal for killing two tourists in 1975, but many of his alleged murders remain unsolved.

He was freed after Nepal’s top court on Wednesday ordered his release on the grounds of his age and health. He is suffering from a heart disease and needs open-heart surgery, the court said.

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

“We are working on gathering all the necessary travel documents to deport Sobhraj to France,” the acting Director General of the Nepal immigration department Pradarshani Kumari told CNN, adding that “it could happen today (Friday), it might take a few days.”

Sobraj outside the District Court in Kathmandu, on September 22, 2003.

“The court’s order is to send him to his home country within 15 days. We are working to deport him keeping that timeframe in mind. He will remain under the supervision of Nepal’s government until he flies out. We are working with the home ministry on his safety,” Kumari added.

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

Born in French-administered Saigon, Vietnam, Sobhraj was first jailed in Paris in 1963 for burglary but went on to be 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 for evading the authorities earned him the nickname “The Serpent.”

Sobhraj eventually admitted to at least 12 killings between 1972 and 1976, and hinted at others to interviewers before retracting the confessions ahead of further court cases, according to his biographers. His true number of victims is unknown.

In 2014, a Nepali court convicted Sobhraj for the 1975 murder of Canadian tourist Laurent Carrière, handing down a 20-year sentence.

The 2021 BBC/Netflix drama called “The Serpent” is based on the story of Sobhraj’s alleged murders. It tells how for years, he evaded the law across Asia as he allegedly drugged, robbed and murdered backpackers along the so-called “hippie trail” – while former Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg worked with authorities to capture him.

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