Charles Sobhraj, the ‘Bikini Killer’

Charles Sobhraj, the 'Bikini Killer'

Charles Sobhraj, the ‘Bikini Killer’ with over a dozen cases of murders against him in Southeast Asian countries, is now a free man with the Nepal Supreme Court ordered his release from a Nepal Jail where he is serving  murder sentences.

A joint bench of justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Tilak Prasad Shrestha on 21/12/22 ordered to free the 78-year-old killer, who is also known as the ‘Serpent’ from jail due to old age. The court also asked authorities to arrange for immediate deportation to his home country, France, within 15 days.


Sobhraj gained the nickname ‘the Bikini killer’ as some of his victims were found in bikinis. He got the nickname ‘the serpent’ for his skill at slipping away from law enforcement authorities.


Sobhraj targeted tourists, particularly backpackers, in Thailand, Nepal, and India. Most often, he would often befriend and then drug them, stealing their possessions and identification. He would spike their drinks and kill them, often with women accomplices. He has been accused of around 20 murders. At times, he stole the passports and used the identities of the people he had killed. He was arrested several times in several countries, but fled or bribed his way out.


Sobhraj was arrested in India in 1976 in New Delhi. The serial killer with three women accomplices convinced some French students to hire them as tour guides. They then gave the tourists poison pills. However, some of the students managed to call the police and Sobhraj and his group were arrested, tried, and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Towards the end of his sentence, he escaped by giving prison guards spiked sweets for his “birthday”.  He was recaptured. Reports stated that he had “deliberately escaped towards the end of his ten year jail term in order to be re-captured and face new charges for his escape. It is said that he did this as he could avoid extradition to Thailand where he was wanted for five murders and would almost certainly be given the death penalty. By the time of his release in 1997, the 20 year time-frame for him to be tried in Bangkok had lapsed.


Released from India, Sobhraj went back to France. But in 2003, he went to Nepal, where he got arrested again. In 2004, he was given life term in Nepal for killing an American woman, Connie Jo Bronzich, in 1975. Later, he was convicted for killing Bronzich’s American friend, Laurent Carrière.


Born in then-French-occupied Saigon, he was son of an Indian businessman and a Vietnamese shop assistant. His parents were not married and his father never acknowledged paternity.

Sobhraj later moved to France after his mother married a French soldier. He took to petty crimes early, moving in and out of jails since his teenage.

Sobhraj’s story has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries, and movies, including the TV series “The Serpent,” which was released in 2021.


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