South Asia
Charles Sobhraj: Secret of escaping from India’s Tihar Jail to Nepal

Nepal’s Supreme Court has ordered the release of French serial killer Charles Sobhraj.

According to Supreme Court, this decision has been taken on the basis of his age. Sobhraj is 78 years old and is suffering from heart disease.

Sobhraj has been in jail in Nepal since 2003 for the murder of two American tourists.

The court has ordered his extradition within 15 days of his release.

Charles Sobhraj, who was famous for nicknames like ‘The Serpent’ and ‘Bikini Killer’, was born on April 6, 1944, in Saigon, Vietnam. His mother was a citizen of Vietnam and his father was Indian. The father refused to adopt him.

At that time Vietnam was occupied by France. Being born in a French colony, he had acquired French citizenship.

Charles Sobhraj, an expert in disguise, used to target tourists and young women. Charles Sobhraj faced more than 20 murder charges in India, Thailand, Nepal, Turkey and Iran. He came to be called serial killer but before August 2004 he was not convicted in any such case.

As a criminal, Sobhraj either kept coming out of jail by dodging or kept getting facilities in the jail by bribing the officials.

It is believed that apart from India, Sobhraj has come out of jails in Afghanistan, Greece and Iran by dodging.

In the case of poisoning French tourists, he spent almost 20 years in jail in India.

Here’s the full text of Nepal’s Supreme Court order:


Entry into the world of crime

It is believed that Sobhraj committed petty crimes in France in his early life, but the beginning of becoming a serial killer took place in the year 1963 when he travelled to Asia.

Experts say that his method of carrying out criminal incidents was always the same. He befriended French and English-speaking tourists who took drugs, looted their goods and then killed them.

Between 1972 and 1982, there were more than twenty allegations of Sobhraj’s murder. In all these cases, the victims were given drugs. His throat was strangulated. He was killed or he was burnt.

It is said that Charles’ power to commit violence can only be matched by his escape from prison.

He escaped from jail twice in India. Once he even escaped from a high-security jail like Tihar.

How and why escaped from Prison

In 1976, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison, but only after ten years in 1986, he escaped from Tihar Jail.

Sobhraj organized a birthday party in the jail. In this, guards were also called along with the prisoners.

Sleeping pills were mixed in the biscuits and grapes distributed at the party. In a short while, apart from Sobhraj and four other people who had escaped from jail with him, everyone else became exhausted.

According to reports in Indian newspapers, Sobhraj was so sure about coming out that he even took a picture at the gate of the jail.

In Richard Neville’s biography, Charles Sobhraj says, “As long as I have a chance to talk to people, I can charm them.”

It is said that at the end of his ten-year prison sentence, he deliberately escaped so that he could be caught again and prosecuted for running away from prison.

By doing this, he could avoid extradition to Thailand. In Thailand, he was accused of five murders and it was almost certain that he could get the death penalty.

By the time he was released in 1997, the deadline for prosecuting him in Bangkok had passed. India extradited him to France in 1997.

Arrest in Nepal

In the year 2003, once again Charles Sobhraj returned to Nepal and this time he came in a fearless manner when the police there could arrest him this time he also spoke to the press. But he was arrested from a casino in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

Nepal reopened a nearly 28-year-old case against him, accusing him of travelling on a fake passport and killing a Canadian citizen and an American woman.

Sobhraj denied the allegations but the police claimed they had enough evidence. In the year 2004, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In April last year, Charles Sobhraj again came into the limelight when he gave an interview to foreign media from Nepal’s jail. Questions were being raised that how did a jail inmate finally talk to the media.

Reports based on interviews about Sobhraj’s imprisonment and his future plans were published in two British magazines.

Charles SobhrajFrench serial killerNepalNepal Supreme CourtTihar Jail