Charles Sobhraj: French serial killer ‘The Serpent’ released from Nepalese prison


Charles Sobhraj, the infamous French serial killer who inspired the award-nominated TV series “The Serpent,” was released from a Nepalese prison on Friday.

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

Sobhraj, 78, had been sentenced to life in prison in Nepal for killing two tourists in 1975, but many of his alleged murders remain unsolved.

He was released after Nepal’s top court on Wednesday ordered his release due to his age and health. The court said he is suffering from heart disease and needs open heart surgery.

Local officials said they were making arrangements for Sobhraj’s immediate deportation, which could happen as soon as Friday.

“We are working to gather all the necessary travel documents to deport Sobhraj to France,” acting director general of Nepal’s immigration department, Pradarshani Kumari, told CNN, adding that “it could happen today (Friday), It may take a few days.”

Sobraj before the Kathmandu District Court on 22 September 2003.

“The court order is to send him to his country of origin within 15 days. We are working to deport him with this deadline in mind. He will remain under the supervision of the Government of Nepal until he leaves. We are working with the home ministry for their safety,” Kumari added.

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

Born in Saigon, Vietnam under French administration, Sobhraj was first jailed in Paris in 1963 for theft, but was 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 Snake”.

Sobhraj is escorted by Nepalese police to a district court in Bhaktapur on June 12, 2014.

Sobhraj eventually admitted to at least 12 murders between 1972 and 1976, hinting at others to interviewers before retracting the confessions ahead of new court cases, according to his biographers. The actual number of victims is unknown.

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

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

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