Sobhraj to sue French government for jail stint

Published on Sep 15, 2004 04:38 PM IST

Forced to cool his heels in a dingy prison cell in Kathmandu, Charles Sobhraj is going to make another attempt to break free -- by suing his own government.

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HT Image
PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, Kathmandu

Forced to cool his heels in a dingy prison cell in Kathmandu, Charles Sobhraj is going to make another attempt to break free -- by suing his own government.

The 60-year-old "Bikini Killer", so called for preying on Western tourists, was wanted in several countries but nowhere could the police make murder charges against him stick.

He got his comeuppance this year in Nepal where he was wanted on charges of murdering an American tourist and her Canadian boyfriend 29 years ago.

Nepal's police say Sobhraj had come to Kathmandu at that time using the passport of a Dutch tourist, Henricus Bentinja, whom he is also suspected of murdering in Thailand.

During his stay in Kathmandu in 1975, he is said to have befriended Californian Connie Jo Bronizch and her boyfriend Laurent Ormond Carriere, and murdered both.

However, the case could not continue as Sobhraj was said to have escaped from Kathmandu. In September, the French citizen was spotted gambling in a casino in the capital and arrested.

Though the charge of murdering Carriere could not stick because the police were unable to locate the nearly 30-year-old file, Sobhraj was found guilty of murdering Bronizch.

A Kathmandu court last month sentenced him to life imprisonment - a 20-year jail term - for murder, the first time ever for Sobhraj, also called the "Serpent" because of his cunning identity switches and prison breaks.

Sobhraj had protested against the verdict, saying he had never come to Nepal before and that he was sentenced without trial. He contends that the case was heard on the basis of police and media reports without calling any of the witnesses for cross-questioning.

Presently a month into his prison term, Sobhraj's lawyer Sanjeev Ghimire said the Frenchman was readying documents to file a case before the Human Rights Commission in the European Union.

The case, expected to be filed within a fortnight, will be against the French government.

Sobhraj's argument is that though he was convicted in Nepal without a fair trial, his own government did not do anything to help him.

Sobhraj's wife, who resides in France, will file the case, Ghimire said.

Once that is done, Ghimire is likely to file an appeal in Nepal against the decision of the Kathmandu court.

"Sobhraj has remained absolutely cool," said Ghimire, who met him in prison.

"It is he who is planning all the strategy."

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