Who is Charles Sobhraj aka ‘The Serpent?’ Serial killer returns to France after two decades in prison

After nearly two decades, convicted serial killer Charles Sobhraj was released from prison in Nepal and deported to France (Image via Getty Images)
After nearly two decades, convicted serial killer Charles Sobhraj was released from prison in Nepal and deported to France (Image via Getty Images)

On Saturday, French national and convicted serial killer Charles Sobhraj returned to France after spending nearly two decades in prison in Nepal. He was put behind bars for 19 years for the murders of two people in 1975.

The Frenchman, born to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, has been connected to the deaths of at least 20 western backpackers on the "hippie trail" across Asia between 1972 and 1982.

He was released from imprisonment by Nepal's Supreme Court for exhibiting good behavior and due to his deteriorating health. According to the court, Charles Sobhraj suffers from heart disease and will require open-heart surgery.

AFP reported that the verdict stated:

"Keeping him in the prison continuously is not in line with the prisoner's human rights."

In 1975, Sobhraj was charged with the murder of an American backpacker, Connie Jo Bronzich, in Nepal. Years later, he was also found guilty of killing Bronzich’s Canadian friend, Laurent Carriere, and was handed a 20-year jail sentence.

Apart from Nepal, Charles Sobhraj was also suspected of killing six women in the 1970s in Thailand, and was jailed in India for decades for allegedly poisoning a group of French tourists in the capital city of New Delhi.

The 78-year-old will be barred from stepping foot in Nepal for the next ten years. It remains unclear whether he will face any charges in France.

Charles Sobhraj plans on suing the Nepal government, says he was wrongfully convicted

After spending 19 years behind bars in Nepal, Charles Sobhraj returned to his home country after his release. The convicted killer, who was nicknamed 'The Serpent', however maintains that he did not kill Bronzich or her friend.

His lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, told Reuters:

"He is well, he is a free man...He will file a legal complaint against Nepal because the whole case against him was fabricated."

Sobhraj, who had been held in a high-security prison prior to his release, told French news agency AFP that the case against him was built on fake documents. He further said:

"I have a lot to do. I have to sue a lot of people."

According to reports, the French killer was accused of committing crimes across multiple countries including France, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Thailand, and Malaysia.

Charles Sobhraj was arrested in Nepal in 2003 after he was spotted in a Kathmandu casino by a reporter. His skills at evading police and national law enforcement agencies had given him the nickname 'The Serpent.'

According to Murderpedia, Charles Sobhraj has been arrested multiple times for auto theft and robbery. His first murder victim was a Pakistani chauffeur named Habib, who was hired by Sobhraj to drive him and a woman from Rawalpindi to Peshawar. He became a part of the heroin trade in India, and his list of victims seemingly kept on increasing from this point in time.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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