‘The Serpent’ serial killer arrives back in France after release from Nepalese prison

Charles Sobhraj is believed to have killed at least 20 people during the 1970s

Serial killer Charles Sobhraj has arrived in France after being released from a life sentence in a Nepal prison.

Sobhraj, a 78-year-old French citizen, had been serving time for the deaths of American and Canadian backpackers in the 1970s.

He has admitted killing several western tourists around Asia, and was the subject of a series co-produced by the BBC and Netflix called The Serpent.

He arrived on Saturday at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris on a flight from Nepal via Qatar, his French lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, told the Associated Press.


She welcomed his release, saying: “I’m very happy but very shocked that it took 19 years to obtain his normal freedom.”

She added that his murder conviction in Nepal was a “fabricated case, based on falsified documents”.

She said Sobhraj will rest now he is back in France.

The French government did not respond to requests for comment on whether he could face judicial challenges in France.

Sobhraj is believed to have killed at least 20 people in Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Turkey, Nepal, Iran and Hong Kong during the 1970s.

He was held for two decades in New Delhi’s maximum-security Tihar prison on suspicion of theft but was deported without charge to France in 1997.

He resurfaced in 2003 in Kathmandu, and was convicted the following year for the murders of American and Canadian backpackers in Nepal.

Life sentences in Nepal are 20 years. In announcing his release this week, the Nepal supreme court said he had already served more than 75 per cent of his sentence and had behaved well in prison, making him eligible for release.

He was released on Friday and ordered to leave Nepal within 15 days.

A ticket was bought with money from a friend, and the French embassy in Kathmandu prepared travel documents allowing him to take a flight out, lawyer Gopal Siwakoti Chitan said.

The “serpent” nickname stems from his reputation as a disguise and escape artist. He was also known as “the bikini killer” because he often targeted young women. – Associated Press Reporters