Charles Sobrage, the convicted murderer who police believe murdered more than 20 Western backpackers on a “hippie trail” through Asia in the 1970s and 1980s, returned to France on Saturday after nearly two decades behind bars in Nepal.
Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the release of Sobhraj, known as the “Bikini Killer” in Thailand, and the “Snake” for evading police, on Wednesday, citing his advanced age and health.
Sobraj, 78, a French national born to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, landed at Paris’s main international airport shortly after 7 a.m. and was escorted off the plane by police to check his identity.
“He is fine, he is a free man,” Sobhraj’s lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Pierre, told Reuters. When asked about his next steps, she said, “He will file a legal complaint against Nepal because the whole case against him is fabricated.”
Sobhraj had been held in a maximum security prison in Nepal since 2003, when he was arrested for the murder of American backpacker Connie Joe Brunsich in 1975. He was later convicted of killing Brunsich’s Canadian friend, Laurent Carrier, and served 19 years. Out of a 20-year prison sentence.
But he is suspected of more murders, including in Thailand, where police say he murdered six women in the 1970s, some of whom died on a beach near the resort of Pattaya.
He was imprisoned in India on charges of poisoning a group of French tourists in the capital, New Delhi, in 1976, before he was tried for the charges against him in Thailand.
Sobhraj told AFP during his flight from Nepal that he was not guilty of killing Brunsic and Carrier.
“I have a lot to do. Sobhraj was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
Sobhraj was previously described by colleagues as a con artist, seducer, thief and murderer.
In 2021, BBC and Netflix are producing a drama series based on the story of Sobhraj’s alleged killings.
The French interior and justice ministries did not respond to questions from Reuters about whether Sobhraj could face criminal charges in France. The statute of limitations for the most serious crimes in France is 20 years.