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Endgame: Sobhraj life sentence upheld

Nepal Supreme Court on Friday rejected an appeal by notorious French criminal Charles Sobhraj, 65, who is serving a life sentence for murder of American tourist Connie Joe Bronzich 35 years ago. Utpal Parashar reports. Life of crime

world Updated: Jul 31, 2010 02:03 IST
Utpal Parashar

Nepal Supreme Court on Friday rejected an appeal by notorious French criminal Charles Sobhraj, 65, who is serving a life sentence for murder of American tourist Connie Joe Bronzich 35 years ago.

Justices Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Gauri Dhakal announced the verdict in a court room packed with journalists from Nepal and India and Sobhraj’s 23-year-old Nepali wife Nihita Biswas.

Sobhraj, who is popular as ‘bikini killer’ and ‘serpent’ for his alleged involvement in a series of murders across Asia in 1970s was however absent from court due to medical reasons.

“We don’t see any fault in verdicts of the district and appellate courts and uphold their decisions,” said Justice Shah.

Following his dramatic arrest in 2003 from a Kathmandu hotel casino, a district court had held him guilty of Bronzich’s murder and sentenced him to 20 years imprisonment. An appellate court later upheld the verdict.

Terming his 2003 visit as his first one to Nepal, Sobhraj had denied any involvement in the murder and appealed against the verdicts in Supreme Court.

The SC held that although there was no direct evidence in the case, circumstantial evidence showed Sobhraj’s involvement in the murder.

Today’s verdict was also based on rulings by India’s Supreme Court where Sobhraj had admitted to visiting Nepal in December 1975 and having escaped following questioning by police in a murder case.

Nihita, who married Sobhraj inside jail two years ago, termed the verdict as travesty of justice. “How can you convict a person without evidence?” she questioned.

See graphics: Life of crime