French serial killer Sobhraj appeals jail term

2nd November 2004, Comments 0 comments

KATHMANDU, Oct 31 (AFP) - Notorious French serial killer Charles Sobhraj has lodged an appeal with Nepal's Appellate Court against his conviction on murder charges and his life sentence, a court official said Sunday.

KATHMANDU, Oct 31 (AFP) - Notorious French serial killer Charles Sobhraj has lodged an appeal with Nepal's Appellate Court against his conviction on murder charges and his life sentence, a court official said Sunday.

Sobhraj, a 60-year-old French national who preyed on Western tourists in Asia in the 1970s, was on August 12 sentenced to life by the Kathmandu District Court over the 1975 murder of an American woman.

The appeal was registered last Friday, the court official said.

Sobhraj appealed to the Appellate Court to overturn the lower court's verdict saying it was based on "fictitious evidence", said his lawyer, Sanjib Ghimire.

Police had said a key factor in the conviction of Sobhraj - dubbed 'The Serpent' for his audacious escapes from the law - was analysis of signatures under the name of Henricus Bintanja whose Dutch passport Sobhraj allegedly used to enter and leave Nepal in 1975.

Bintanja and his fiancee, Cornelia Hemker, were strangled to death that year with their burned bodies found in a ditch outside Bangkok, according to press reports of the time.

"The airport disembarkation card and hotel registration from 1975, both made under the Dutch name, were kept as part of the investigation. The signature matched the handwriting of Sobhraj's French passport," a police investigator said after the conviction.

Sobhraj had told AFP last year he was on his first trip to Nepal and was working on a documentary on handicrafts. Reputed to be a compulsive gambler, he was arrested in the all-night casino of Kathmandu's five-star Yak and Yeti Hotel last September.

According to a prison official, Sobhraj was exerting strong pressure to be moved from Kathmandu's Central Jail to Nakkhu Jail in Lalitpur district south of the capital. It is feared that he would use the move to make an ingenious getaway.

Sobhraj in the Central Jail was alone among 1,500 inmates to briefly boast a laptop and a mobile phone with international call facility, the source said.

The home ministry, however, recovered the telephone from his luggage during a search of his room, the source added.

"The home ministry is seriously investigating the matter to find out who helped Sobhraj to get the mobile," an official said.

The chief jailer, Bhola Shivakoti, said a laptop had been authorised but not a mobile phone.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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