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Sobhraj not hopeful of release in Nepal: Lawyer

A Frenchman dubbed the "bikini killer" has little chance of winning an appeal against his 20-year jail sentence in Nepal that is set to be heard today, his lawyer has admitted.



Kathmandu: A Frenchman dubbed the "bikini
killer" has little chance of winning an appeal against his
20-year jail sentence in Nepal that is set to be heard today,
his lawyer has admitted.

Charles Sobhraj, dubbed the "bikini killer" for his
links to a series of grisly backpacker killings across Asia in
the 1970s, is appealing against his conviction six years ago
for the 1975 murder of an American tourist in Nepal.

The 66-year-old`s lawyer told AFP she had little hope
he would be set free and accused the country`s judiciary of
behaving like "thugs" and seeking to profit from her client.

"I am not very optimistic (about the verdict), because
they have shown they could not care less about international
legal standards," Isabelle Coutant-Peyre told AFP by telephone
from Paris.

"Nepal`s political and legal institutions are behaving
like a gang of thugs."
The Supreme Court is due Friday to deliver its
verdict on his appeal after years of hearings and repeated
delays.

Sobhraj has maintained his innocence throughout,
saying he was not even in Nepal when Connie Joe Bronzich was
stabbed repeatedly and her body, burned almost beyond
recognition, dumped on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

He was convicted of her murder in 2004 and had a
previous appeal against the ruling rejected in 2005.
Handwriting analysis played a significant part in
the conviction, with signatures on two hotel registration
cards around the time of the murder said to be his.

But Sobhraj`s lawyers say the originals were never
produced during his trial, only photocopies.

Sobhraj, born to Vietnamese and Indian parents but
of French nationality, has been linked to the deaths of at
least 12 backpackers across Asia in the 1970s.

He was previously convicted for culpable homicide
not amounting to murder in India, where he served 21 years in
prison. He was eventually released and returned to live in
France.

PTI

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