Charles Sobraj, a convicted killer who police believe killed more than 20 Western backpackers on the “hippy trail” through Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, returned to France on Saturday after nearly two decades in a Nepalese prison.
Nepal’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the release of Sobhraj, known in Thailand as the “Bikini Killer” and ‘The Serpent’ for evading police, citing his age and health.
A French national born to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother, Soubraj, 78, landed at Paris’ main international airport shortly after 7am and was escorted off the plane by police for identity checks.
“He’s fine, he’s a free man,” Sobraj’s lawyer, Isabelle Gaudant-Bear, told Reuters. Asked what his next steps would be, he said, “He will file a legal complaint against Nepal as the entire case against him is fabricated.”
Sobharaj has been held in a high-security prison in Nepal since 2003, when he was arrested on charges of murdering American backpacker Connie Jo Broncich in 1975. He later served 19 years in prison after being convicted of murdering Broncich’s Canadian friend, Laurent Carrier. Out of a 20-year sentence.
But he was suspected in several murders, including in Thailand, where police say he killed six women in the 1970s, some of whom died on a beach near a resort in Pattaya.
In 1976, he was jailed in India for poisoning a group of French tourists in the capital New Delhi in 1976, before going on trial on charges against him in Thailand.
Sobraj told the French news agency AFP on a flight from Nepal that he was not guilty of murdering Francech and Carrier.
“I have a lot to do. I have to sue a lot of people,” Sobhraj said, AFP reported.
Associates have previously described Chopraj as a traitor, seducer, robber and murderer.
In 2021, the BBC and Netflix produced a drama series based on the story of Sobharaj’s alleged murder.
France’s interior and justice ministries did not respond to questions from Reuters about whether Soubraj could face criminal charges in France. The statute of limitations for the most serious crimes in France is 20 years.