Nepal releases Pattaya’s ‘bikini killer’ – Charles ‘the Serpent’ Sobhraj

Nepal has released Thailand’sbikini killer,” Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer also known as “The Serpent,” said to be responsible for a string of murders in the 1970s and 1980s.

Nepal’s Supreme Court’s spokesperson Bimal Paudel said…

“The court has ordered that if there is no other reason to keep him in jail, he should be released and sent back to his country within 15 days.”

Sobhraj, French national, now aged 78 years old, has served 19 years in prison in the Kathmandu suburb of Bhaktapur for the murders of an American and a Canadian backpacker in 1975. Nepal has released Charles Sobhraj who is suffering from heart disease and needs open-heart surgery. Life sentences in Nepal are generally commuted to 20 years.

Charles Sobhraj: The bikini killer left trails of bodies across Thailand and Nepal | Herald Sun
Sobhraj is the supposed “bikini killer” who drugged and killed six women on the beach in Pattaya.

Born in French-administered Saigon, Vietnam, Sobhraj was first jailed in Paris in 1963 for burglary. After a troubled childhood and several prison terms in France for petty crimes, Sobhraj began travelling the world in the early 1970s and wound up in Bangkok. He became known as the “bikini killer” after the drugging and killing of six women on a beach in Pattaya.

He has admitted to killing at least 20 backpackers across Asia. His modus operandi was to charm and befriend his victims — many of them starry-eyed Western backpackers on a quest for spirituality — before drugging, robbing and murdering them.

Alleged murders remain unsolved in Afghanistan, France, Greece, India, Iran, India, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and Turkey. His 2004 conviction in Nepal was the first time he was found guilty in court.

Sobhraj was first caught by authorities in India and served more than two decades in jail from 1976. In 1986, he managed to briefly escape, but was rearrested and served out his sentence. Sobhraj escaped from prison in several countries, and his propensity for evading the authorities earned him the nickname “The Serpent.”

He 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. Nepal releases Thailand’s ‘bikini killer’ with the true number of his victims still unknown.

Charles Sobhraj: Nepal's top court orders release of 'The Serpent,' infamous French serial killer | CNN
In 2003, he returned to Nepal where an outstanding arrest warrant was waiting.

In 2004, he was sentenced to a life term for murdering American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975. Several years later he was also found guilty of killing Bronzich’s Canadian friend, Laurent Carriere.

In prison in 2008, Sobhraj married Nihita Biswas, 44 years his junior and the daughter of his Nepalese lawyer

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


Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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