Sobhraj fiancée, her mum slapped with jail term
Kathmandu: The sensational saga of alleged serial killer Charles Sobhraj had a sequel added to it Monday with the same judge who had sentenced him to life in prison for murder also slapping a jail term and fine on the French national's Nepali fiancée and her mother, along with a fine.
Nihita Biswas, 23, whose romance with Sobhraj, more than 20 years older than her and doing time for murder in Kathmandu's Central Jail, hit the headlines two years ago, found herself on the receiving end of law, like him, when Nepal's Supreme Court found her guilty of contempt of court and sentenced her to prison for a week and fined her 50 Nepalese rupees (less than Rs.30).
Along with Nihita, the judge bench of Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Balaram KC also handed down the same sentence to her mother, Shakuntala Thapa, who had defended Sobhraj for nearly two years during his trial in the Supreme Court for the murder of American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich in Kathmandu.
The two women caused public outrage in Nepal earlier this year - when the apex court dismissed Sobhraj's appeal and ordered him to serve life imprisonment - by questioning the verdict and accusing the two judges of having been bribed into giving the verdict.
Their allegations, circulated worldwide via the media, landed the mother-daughter duo in trouble, with lawyers Shanta Sedhain and Rajan Adhikari bringing a contempt of court charge against them and demanding a year's punishment as well as a fine of 10,000 Nepalese rupees.
Twelve of Nepal's top lawyers were asked to advise the court and most of them recommended that the pair be forgiven after they tendered an unconditional apology.
However, both Shah, who had also presided over the Sobhraj trial and bore the brunt of the allegations, and K C Monday said the apologies were not unconditional.
K C, who delivered the verdict, said the accused had "exceeded the limit".
Thapa, being a lawyer herself, should have reposed faith in the court, the judge said, while Nihita was over 21 and educated.
Both women, therefore, were aware of the consequences of their actions, he said.
The judges also took note of their rejection of a verdict that was not to their liking and tacit threats to go to other courts and seek other remedies.
The judges, however, tempered the verdict with mercy.
Nihita and her mother have also been given an option to doing time in prison. The judges said they would be excused if they paid another fine of 25 Nepalese rupees per day for their prison term.
When the hearing started, they had already spent a night in police detention.