Nihita eyes ‘Bigg Boss’ fame, Sobhraj eyes European Parliament
Kathmandu: As 23-year-old Nihita Biswas Sobhraj becomes the first Nepali to take part in Bigg Boss reality show on Indian television from Sunday, her 67-year-old "celebrity" husband will be gearing up to take his battle for freedom to a new arena - the European Parliament.
After having knocked on the doors of the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) in Geneva for "justice", Sobhraj, who is serving a 20-year life term in Kathmandu`s Central Jail for the murder of an American backpacker in 1975, will now ask the European Parliament in Strasbourg to intervene on his behalf.
"I am a European and it is the responsibility of the European Parliament to intervene when its nationals face injustice," Sobhraj, the troubled boy from Vietnam who became a French citizen after being adopted by his French stepfather, told reporters.
"The UN Human Rights Committee has recognised that the trials in Nepal were biased against me. Two of the lower courts that convicted me did not bother to call any witnesses, the case documents were all photocopies of faked documents and the authorities did not provide me with any interpreter though the entire legal proceeding was in Nepali."
This week, as Nihita flew out of Kathmandu to head for Mumbai to take part in the fifth edition of the Bigg Boss, to be hosted by Salman Khan and Sanjay Dutt, Sobhraj filed a mandamus petition in Nepal`s Supreme Court, the same court that last year upheld the lower courts` "guilty" verdict against him.
The mandamus reminded the court that in February this year, his French lawyer Isabelle Coutant Peyre had slapped a legal notice on Nepal`s then prime minister Jhala Nath Khanal and President, Ram Baran Yadav, asking them to pay a compensation of 6 million euro for Sobhraj`s illegal detention in Nepal since 2003 and the "biased" trials that led to his conviction last year.
The mandamus petition has asked the government of Nepal to respect and abide by its international and constitutional obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which, according to the HRC, were flouted in Sobhraj`s case.
Once Nepal`s courts, mostly closed for the long Dashain holidays, reopen, Sobhraj`s Nepali lawyer Shakuntala Thapa, who is also Nihita`s mother, will also file a new case in the Supreme Court, saying his rights were violated by the previous jailer of the Central Prison.
Nepal`s laws say if anyone wants to have a Supreme Court verdict reviewed by a full bench of at least five judges, the application has to be filed within two months of the verdict.
However, in Sobhraj`s case, though the Supreme Court passed its judgment on the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich last year, he failed to ask for a review as he says the then jailer refused to forward the petition and relevant documents to the court and thereby violated his rights.
Sobhraj told reporters, through his lawyer, that he was confident Nihita, whom he says he married while inside prison, would be able to hold her own with the other contestants in Bigg Boss.
He is also hoping that the contest, which will last for 98 days, will give her a platform to tell the outside world about the injustice done to him in Nepal by the police and courts.
The first murder conviction in Nepal`s district court, for instance, had the judge delivering a "guilty" verdict on the basis of erroneous reading.
In a letter written in the past from Delhi`s Tihar Jail, he had said that his then accomplice Marie LeClerc had not told her parents about her "illegal" activities.
The handwritten letter, published in a book, The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj, was presented as evidence by the prosecutor and the judge, Bishwombhar Shrestha, read "illegal" as "Nepal" and said it proved Sobhraj had visited Nepal in 1975 despite his denials and found him guilty of murder.