Sobhraj`s life term upheld by Nepal SC

He has been dubbed the "bikini killer" for his links to a series of grisly backpacker killings.

Kathmandu: Dealing a body blow to `bikini
killer` Charles Sobhraj`s freedom bid, Nepal`s Supreme Court
today convicted the Indian-origin criminal in a sensational
murder case of an American tourist and upheld the life term
awarded to him by lower courts.

66-year-old Sobhraj, a French national whose father was
an Indian and mother a Vietnamese, was also found guilty by
the apex court of possessing a fake passport.

Rejecting the appeal of the international criminal in the
1975 murder case of US citizen Connie Jo Bronzich, a two-judge
bench of the apex court comprising Ram Kumar Prasad Shaha and
Gauri Dhakal upheld the verdicts of the Kathmandu district
court and Patan appellate court in the matter.

"Although there is no direct evidence, based on
circumstantial evidence, we don`t see any fault in the
decision of the Kathmandu district court and the Patan
appellate court. Therefore, we uphold their verdicts," Justice
Shaha said.

Sobhraj was sentenced by the lower courts to a 20-year
life term for the murder of Bronzich and one year jail and Rs
2,000 fine in the fake passport case.

While delivering its judgement, Nepal`s apex court took
into account Sobhraj`s statement before an Indian court that
he had travelled to Nepal along with his girlfriend Mary. His
girlfriend had also spoke of his involvement in the murder of

Reacting to the verdict, Sobhraj`s lawyer Shakuntala
Thapa, who is also his mother-in-law, claimed that her client
was "denied" justice.

Sobhraj`s wife Nihita Biswas also expressed her
dissatisfaction with the verdict and rejected all charges
against him as baseless.

Earlier on July 14, the apex court had said it needed two
more weeks to decide the matter.

The case of Sobhraj, who was linked to a series of
backpacker killings of tourists across Asia, has attracted
international media attention, particularly after he announced
his engagement and marriage to Nepalese teenager Nihita in
2008, while inside prison.

The alleged serial killer has already spent seven years
in jail in the murder case of Bronzich, who was stabbed
repeatedly, burnt beyond recognition and whose body was dumped
on the outskirts of the Nepalese capital.

Sobhraj was arrested during his second visit here in 2003
and convicted by the Kathmandu District Court in 2004, a
judgement later upheld by the Patan Appellate Court in 2005.
He moved the apex court in 2006 challenging the lower courts`

Sobhraj was nabbed from Kathmandu`s Royale Casino in
2003 on charges of travelling on a fake passport and later he
was also convicted for the murder of the American backpacker.

Sobharj claims that he has never visited Nepal before
2003 and denies having committed any crime here.

He had previously been convicted in India and served 21
years in prison for culpable homicide. After his release he
returned to live in France.

Sobhraj has another case pending against him of the
murder of a Canadian tourist Laurent Armound Carriere in the
Bhaktapur district court.


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