Jailed "bikini killer" Sobhraj loses Nepal court battle
KATHMANDU (Reuters Life!) - Nepal's Supreme Court on Friday upheld a life imprisonment sentence for "bikini killer" Charles Sobhraj for killing an American backpacker in 1975.
French national Sobhraj, 66, has been accused in a number of Asian countries of killing over 20 Western travelers in the 1970s and his exploits have spawned two books, a movie and many news articles.
He has been in a high-security Kathmandu jail since 2003, when he was arrested in a casino in the Nepali capital on charges of murdering American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich.
Sobhraj was convicted and jailed in India for 21 years on murder charges, and had returned to Nepal after his release.
On Friday, Supreme Court judge Ram Kumar Prasad Shah said despite lack of direct evidence, he saw no fault in a 2004 decision by a lower court to convict Sobhraj on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
"So, we uphold their decision," he told a small court room packed with dozens of people. Convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in Nepal usually serve 20 years in jail.
Sobhraj, who has claimed innocence, was not present in the court. His lawyer criticized the verdict.
"This is injustice to an elderly person," Shakuntala Thapa said.
Born to an Indian father and Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj had been living in France since 1997 after serving 20 years in an Indian jail on various charges.