Friday, December 23, 2022

Nepal deports 'The Serpent'

Nepal today deported the French national Charles Sobhraj, who is notoriously known as 'The Serpent' or 'bikini killer'.

Amid tight security, the Immigration Department saw Sobhraj off at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) as he boarded Doha-bound Qatar Airways flight QR 647 at 6 pm to fly back to France. 

The French Embassy in Kathmandu provided necessary travel documents for the deportation of the 78-year-old Sobhraj, who was freed from the Central Jail at Sundhara in Kathmandu today afternoon, after serving 19 years behind the bars.

He is scheduled to land in Doha at 9:30 pm, from where he will fly to Paris on another Qatar Airways flight QR41 at 1:25 am to land in Paris at 6:35 am on Saturday morning. "I will celebrate Christmas in France," he is quoted saying to the immigration officials.

Sobhraj will be barred from entering Nepal for the next ten years, according to joint secretary and spokesperson of Home Ministry Fanindra Mani Pokharel.

The septuagenarian was taken to the TIA immediately from the Immigration Department after getting travel document from the French Embassy in Kathmandu. Though, the Supreme Court, on Wednesday, has ordered the government to deport him within 15 days, the Home Ministry today directed the Immigration Department, that was preparing to keep him in Dillibazar Prison in case his paperwork delayed, to deport Sobhraj immediately today, due to security threat.

The Central jail that had planned to release him yesterday had also postponed it for today saying that some official procedures were not complete to set him free from prison, and there is no secure place in Immigration Department to keep him.

According to Wednesday's Supreme Court order, Charles Sobhraj needs to be sent back to his country in the next 15 days. Sobhraj, also wanted to spend some more time in Kathmandu and undergo medical treatment for his heart problems. "But due to security reasons, we could not fulfil his wishes," a source at the Home Ministry said.

After being released from Central jail and handed over to the Immigration Department today afternoon, he refused to meet anyone, including journalists, his lawyer Sakuntala Thapa and alleged wife Nihita Bishwas, who had been trying to get him out of the jail from the beginning.

Sobhraj’s lawyers had long been demanding the court’s intervention for clemency. In different petitions they had demanded a waiver of his jail sentence, citing provisions of Clause 12 (1) of the Senior Citizens Act 2063. According to Nepal law, inmates, who have shown good character and completed 75 per cent of their jail term to be released.

A joint bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Til Prasad Shrestha hearing a habeas corpus petition lodged by Sobhraj ordered his release on Wednesday, if he need not be jailed for another case, and added that arrangements be made to return the French citizen back to his country within 15 days.

Sobhraj pointed in his petition that he has already served 19 years and is 78 years old.  

Kathmandu and Bhaktapur district courts had found him guilty in murder of American and Canadian citizens in 1975. He was ruled to have murdered American citizen Connie Jo Bronzich in Manohara of Kathmandu and then Canadian national Laurent Carrière two days later in Sanga of Bhaktapur in December 1975.

The Supreme Court in 2010 had endorsed the life sentence slapped on him by the Kathmandu District Court. The Bhaktapur District Court had then sentenced him for the murder of Canadian national in 2014. He has been at the Central Jail in Sundhara, Kathmandu since his arrest in Kathmandu in 2003.

Sobhraj, who was freed after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of his age and good behaviour, was arrested in Kathmandu in 2003 on charges of traveling with a false passport and also for the murders of American tourist Connie Jo Boronzich (29) and Canadian Laurent Carrière (26) in 1975. But he had been denying the charges and threatening to sue international media including BBC and Nepal government for falsely implicating him.

Linked to a string of murders throughout Asia in the 1970s, the son of Indian and Vietnamese parents, Sobhraj has been charged to more than 20 killings between 1972 and 1982, in which the victims were drugged, strangled, beaten, or burned, across many countries, including Thailand and India, in Asia.

Before his two convictions in Kathmandu, Sobhraj had already spent two decades in jail in India for poisoning a busload of French tourists.

No comments: