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True crime. Casually done.

Charles Sobhraj: The Bikini Killer

INTRO

Free person with handcuffed in prison public domain people CC0 photo.

It’s March, 1986, and a prisoner is sitting in Tihar Jail, a maximum security facility in New Delhi, India. But this is no ordinary prisoner. His life is one of fine dining and conjugal visits, and he seems to have the freedom of the whole facility. A little while earlier, a new guard had shown up to his first day of work, only to be told the job he’d been hired for didn’t actually exist. He encountered this prisoner wandering the halls and, assuming he was some sort of senior official, complained of his situation to him. The prisoner went into an office and talked to the new guard’s boss. When the prisoner came back out, he told the guard he was to start work that afternoon.

One day, the prisoner claims it’s his birthday and decides to throw a party. He gets his contacts to bring sweets and other treats inside, which he shares around the staff. They gladly partake, apparently not worried that what he’s actually in for is poisoning sixty French students. Astonishingly, the sweets are poisoned, and practically the whole staff is incapacitated. In the ensuing confusion, the prisoner, along with about a dozen others, simply walks outside. He’s recaptured within weeks while dining in a fancy restaurant in Goa, which was his plan all along. The whole stunt had been an elaborate ruse to lengthen his sentence in order to run down the clock on a twenty year statute of limitations which would have seen him deported to Thailand and near certain execution.

The prisoner in question is one Charles Sobhraj.

EARLY LIFE AND CRIMES

Source: pesantrennuris.net

One of the biggest problems with someone like Sobhraj is that he’s always been a professional liar and fantasist. On multiple occasions he’s claimed to have never killed anyone, to have only killed bad people, to have killed up to a hundred people, to have worked for the CIA to disrupt Triad arms sales to the Taliban, and to have committed his crimes as some kind of anti-colonialist activism. This combined with the chaotic nature of the Hippie Trail, more on which later, means that it’s actually quite difficult to pin down exactly what he did and to whom. On top of all this, the media – especially French and South Asian papers – lapped up his stories both true and untrue, casting him as some sort of debonair, ‘Raffles’ type character, regardless of the pain this might cause his victims’ families, or the impact on ongoing investigations. There are, however, some things we can know for sure, and what is abundantly clear is that Charles Sobhraj was a despicable lying scavenger who cut a swathe of murder and betrayal across several continents with no apparent motive other than satisfying his pathological vanity and financing his travels.

Sobhraj was born on April 6, 1944 in what was then Saigon, as Hotchand Bhawnani Gurumukh Sobhraj [HO-chand bav-NAAN-ee Goor-mook]. His father was an Indian tailor who rejected the boy and denied paternity, and his mother one of his young Vietnamese shop assistants, who always blamed her son for ending her dalliance with her boss. Vietnam at the time was “French Indochina”, and the Viet Minh were fighting their war of independence against the French colonialists. Needless to say, the country was in violent upheaval, and biographers affirm that Charles was witness to a great deal of violence in his early years. His mother eventually married an officer of the occupying French force – Lieutenant Alphonse Darreau – who was ready to adopt Gurumukh but not to give him his name. Darreau, who was diagnosed with ‘shell shock’ or PTSD, was soon invalided back to France, taking his family with him. Sobhraj was converted to Catholicism (probably by default), attended a Catholic boarding school in France, and took the Christian name ‘Charles’, reportedly owing to his strong Charlie Chaplin impersonation. So he wasn’t just a murderous conman in training. He was also deeply irritating.

Sobhraj was soon feeling neglected relative to his new half-siblings and had somehow concocted a vision of his biological father as a heroic figure. He began committing petty crimes and manipulating his half-brother, Andre Darreau, into shoplifting on his behalf. When his mother confronted him about this, Charles, ten years old at the time, explained, “There’s always some idiot who’s prepared to do whatever I want.” He also stowed away aboard at least two ships passing, trying to run away to his biological father, before being discovered and returned at great expense to his family. These features of his personality – a sense of victimhood, peripatetic wanderlust, and intensive manipulation of those around him – would come to define his entire future life.

After a childhood full of petty crime, reformatories, and two sets of parents on different continents who made it very clear they could very easily do without him, Sobhraj ended up in big boy prison for the first time in 1963 at the age of nineteen. The prison was Poissy [pwah-si], the charge: burglary. By now he was estranged from his family, a more or less hardened offender fond of car theft, fraud, and armed robbery, and a promising psychopath. At Poissy he became friends with wealthy young prison visitor Felix D’Escogne [dess-cone]. Prison visitors are volunteers who help inmates with legal matters, letter-writing, and other services. Felix was a kindly young man from a wealthy family and was so impressed with Sobhraj he invited him to stay with him upon his release. Whilst living with Felix, Sobhraj was introduced to Parisian high society, as well as mixing regularly with drug dealers, professional gamblers, and jewel smugglers. This dual experience enabled him to become what was later described as “a social chameleon”, able to be plausible and popular in almost any company.

While trading on Felix’s good name and contacts to commit a series of robberies and scams, Sobhraj met Chantal Compagnon, a French girl of good family who lived at home with her parents. There was a long courtship, as Chantal knew her family would struggle to accept him as a son-in-law. Eventually, Sobhraj appears to have had a bit of a meltdown about this while speeding along with the poor girl in a stolen car. The pressure of this situation led her to finally consent to be his fiancé. Later that day, Sobhraj was arrested and jailed for stealing that very car. After an eight month stint back in Poissy, Charles and Chantal were married. Her family’s consent probably had something to do with her pregnancy, announced shortly after the wedding.

Sobhraj was on a pretty good wicket in Paris, but his self-destructive compulsions meant that one day in 1970 he was forced to pack up his pregnant wife and scant belongings into a stolen MG. They drove through Eastern Europe under false papers, robbing tourists they met along the way, until finally settling in Bombay (now Mumbai). In the meantime, their daughter Usha was born, and Charles began running a stolen car fencing business selling European vehicles to homesick French expatriates in order to feed both his family and his compulsive gambling habit.

While it’s quite difficult to separate half-truths and outright lies from the various accounts, many of which rely heavily on interviews with Sobhraj, it seems he spent this period in India involved in various rackets as well as the stolen car business. He seems to have been smuggling drugs, trading and smuggling gemstones, committing short cons and running various rackets. All the while his gambling debts kept running ahead of his income, which culminated in Sobhraj becoming involved in a hare-brained scheme to rob a jewellery store at the Ashoka [ah-SHAW-ka] Hotel by drilling down into it from the floor above. Some reports say he held a Flamenco dancer hostage in her room while they drilled, which is a typically Sobhraj-esque detail. Whatever the facts, it’s certainly true Sobhraj and crew weren’t the master criminals they thought themselves. After three days of drilling, little progress had been made, because drilling through a floor requires a survey, an understanding of sound-proofing, a plan for debris control and removal, and specialist equipment. In the end, Sobhraj lured the owner up to the room, took the keys from him at gunpoint, and tied him up. He then fled to the airport where it became apparent he was no better at knots than he was at drilling – the manager had escaped and alerted the police.

So it was that in 1973, Sobhraj was arrested and imprisoned. He somehow procured a syringe, filled his mouth with his own blood and faked a perforated ulcer, which got him into hospital. Here, his wife Chantal visited him, smuggling chloroform which he used to drug the guard and escape. She took a dose as well, in an attempt to establish her own innocence. Predictably, this didn’t work and she was imprisoned as an accomplice. Sobhraj fled, was recaptured, and borrowed money from his father to pay bail. Chantal had also been bailed, so they fled to Kabul where Charles continued conning and robbing travellers. After a little while his wanderlust got the better of him again, and the whole happy family went off to Kabul airport where he was promptly arrested and jailed for non-payment of rent. Unbelievably, Sobhraj escaped from prison in Kabul in pretty much exactly the same way. He fled to Iran, abandoning his family and Chantal, tired of their life of crime but incredibly still loyal to Sobhraj, took her daughter to go and live quietly in France. And thus ended Charles Sobhraj’s long criminal apprenticeship and short first marriage.

Shortly after this, Sobhraj was joined by his half-brother Andre – the very same one he’d manipulated into shoplifting for him all those years ago – in Istanbul. They went on a crime spree, defrauding, robbing, and smuggling between Greece and Turkey. They were eventually arrested in Athens. Sobhraj’s rap sheet by this time was thick enough to earn him a hefty sentence, whereas Andre’s was much slimmer. Discussing things between them, Sobhraj managed to persuade Andre to swap identities, banking mistakenly on the Greek and Turkish authorities hating each other so much they’d never cooperate. So Andre claimed to be Charles, who had somehow managed to escape from prison in exactly the same way as his many previous gaolbreaks, with the intention of unmasking himself once Charles was clear and doing his much lighter sentence. Andre, however, was to discover that not only would the Greeks and Turks absolutely cooperate in criminal investigations, they also lacked any sense of humour about being messed about, so Andre found himself sentenced to eighteen years in a Turkish prison.

THE HIPPIE TRAIL

It’s easy to forget just how random the late twentieth century was. Some social theorists reckon the massive trauma of the world wars, followed by the apocalyptic tension of the nuclear age, combined in the West to create a kind of temporal scar ending the modern world and birthing the post-modern reality we live in today. Others think it was the world shrinking through commercial air travel which caused a kind of cultural and psychological ferment, aided by cheap drugs and increasing incomes. The Daily Mail was convinced that the decline of Christianity and the class system had spawned a generation of soft, entitled, drug-addled sex maniacs who would cause the end of Western civilisation. But that’s their explanation for everything. Whatever the causes, the fact is that from around 1970 thousands of Western tourists began drifting through southern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia in search of enlightenment, healing crystals, spiritual gurus, hard drugs, or some combination of all of the above. This was called ‘The Hippie Trail’, and it’s very likely if you’re a middle-class white person that your parents or grandparents spent part of their youth stumbling around Nepal, Afghanistan, or Greece, high as kites and attempting to roger and meditate their way into Nirvana. Of course, they mostly just came home again and got jobs in banks and real estate agencies, but they’re obviously very spiritually enlightened bankers and estate agents. Unless they met someone like Charles Sobhraj, of course, in which case they’re probably dead.

Image by JulianaPascotte from Pixabay

Imagine you’re one half of a happy young couple in your twenties. Life has everything to offer – a job, marriage, a comfortable existence in one of the Netherlands’ fantastically liveable cities. Children, perhaps, with the vibrant, adventurous person by your side who’s chosen to join you in your travels both literal and figurative. But that’s all for the future. First, you’re going to see the world, have a wild adventure or two, and maybe even find something deeper – some key to what all our earthly toils might possess in the way of meaning. You get to Hong Kong, marvelling at the bustling markets and towering skyscrapers, the sense that the whole world has gathered here on this tiny rock to eat a dizzying array of cuisines, buy and sell everything under the sun, and hustle its way into the rest of Asia. It’s here you meet an enigmatic figure of indeterminate ethnicity claiming to be a drug dealer and jewel smuggler, an anti-establishment Robin-Hood-cum-Dick-Turpin, sticking it to the man and carving out a life for himself and his followers on his own terms. He’s got some friends, a mysterious Indian called Ajay Chowdry who seems to be his right hand man, and a Canadian girlfriend called Marie LeClerc. This, of course, is Charles Sobhraj, who you know as Alain Gautier – charming, edgy, with a dark appeal. And to all appearances the key to exactly the kind of adventure you’re both looking for.

You’re invited to Thailand, where he has a little community of defiant outcasts living as they please and travelling the world at will, and you decide to join him at his place in the resort town of Pattaya. Once there, you both immediately fall ill, which isn’t that disturbing as it’s an occupational hazard when travelling through places with varying hygiene standards and exotic food. What you don’t know is that you’ve been poisoned by the very people who are pretending to nurse you to health, and that this is a scam Sobhraj and his brood have run multiple times as a way of gaining followers to do their bidding.

While you’re recovering under the “generous” ministrations of the charming Charles, a woman called Charmayne Carrou [shar-main cah-roo] shows up. She seems like just another stray pulled into this man of mystery’s inner circle, but she’s actually the girlfriend of a Vitali Hakim, whom Sobhraj has recently murdered, and she’s come for answers. So it’s without any understanding of the danger you’re in that you suddenly fall ill again, and Charles and Ajay hustle you out of the house in the middle of the night, groggy and unable to resist. Perhaps the last thing you see is these two men as you pass out from the drugs they’ve poisoned you with yet again. Or perhaps you’re conscious as they throttle you both, your last memory the image of your lover being brutally strangled, the sound of their hyoid bones breaking as they struggle to breathe. Or perhaps, worst of all, you might still be conscious as they splash accelerant over your still living bodies and set you both alight.

Such was the passing of 29-year-old Henk Bintanja [bin-TAN-ya] and 25-year-old Cornelia Hemker. And it’s not as if these murders were particularly exceptional. So typical were they, in fact, that Henk and Cornelia’s bodies were misidentified as another missing pair Sobhraj would murder the same way shortly afterwards in Kathmandu. And what of Charmayne Carrou? She was drugged and stripped, dressed in a bikini, and left to drown in waters off Pattaya. This was exactly the same MO as the murder of young American Teresa Knowlton, usually cited as the first known Sobhraj murder, who was found in a tidal pool in the Gulf of Thailand. It was these two murders which would earn Sobhraj the nickname “The Bikini Killer”, amongst many others. I’ve chosen to use this one as his other nicknames, such as “The Serpent”, are far too cool, and I’d much rather this piece of human garbage be remembered by the silliest handle possible.

DEUS EX MACHINA [day-us ex mak-in-ah]

It’s at this point that absolute legend Herman Knippenberg, third secretary of the Dutch Embassy in Thailand, enters the story. In my experience, the third secretary to any embassy is usually a spy (allegedly), but there doesn’t seem to be any reference to this in any of the voluminous reporting about him. Having said that, Knippenberg does seem to have been a natural-born investigator, piecing together Sobhraj’s deeds and identities with a dogged precision which wouldn’t be out of place in a Le Carré novel. He’s definitely not a spy, though, and any suggestion to this effect would be highly irresponsible.

Knippenberg first encountered the Sobhraj case when the families of Henk and Cornelia contacted the embassy, concerned that their children had broken contact. Knippenberg, believing the parents had a right to feel that the embassy would help them, began investigating. He was aware of the murdered backpackers whom the Dutch couple had been mistakenly identified as, and he wondered if there was a single murderer or group of murderers making their way through Asia. After successfully requesting dental records, he was able to give some closure to the Bintanja and Hemker families by successfully identifying their bodies. By his own account, Knippenberg was shocked by the cruelty of the murders, especially the fact the victims had been burned alive, and he became obsessed with bringing the killer or killers to justice.

There were quite a few factors working against him. First and foremost was the fact that his embassy, once he’d identified the bodies, instructed him to drop the whole affair. They rightly pointed out that he wasn’t a policeman, that sovereign nations don’t have to put up with foreign officials meddling in their affairs, and that if this phantom, whom he only knew under the alias “Alain Gautier” at the time, was as dangerous as he thought, then he himself was in significant peril. At one point, the embassy even sent him on leave to correct his behaviour which, in diplomatic circles, is the equivalent of hitting someone in the back of the head with a sock full of lead shavings. Another obstacle was the generally chaotic nature of this part of the world at the time. Border security across much of the Middle East and Asia was laughable, partly because of the generally less developed nature of the countries in question, and partly owing to paper records and minimal routine information sharing between agencies. It could take days, weeks, or even months to establish a border crossing had taken place, and in some of the regions Sobhraj was active, months or longer for autopsies to take place or bodies to be identified.

There was also the fact that in many of these countries the police, not to put too fine a point on it, could be bought for half a tin of bacon grease. This was combined with the general incompetence of local law enforcement whose main duties typically involved dealing with petty theft, collecting protection money, and beating up poor people who got a bit lippy. This might sound a bit harsh – or even a bit libellous – but it is a broadly accepted fact that the professional and motivated security agencies we see in most of these regions today simply didn’t exist in the seventies. Thus it was that on at least three occasions, Sobhraj and his associates were questioned in direct connection with homicides and disappearances they were responsible for, and simply walked away. In one particularly memorable incident, Sobhraj and Marie LeClerc were able to escape police questioning by assuming the identities of a different set of victims whose passports they’d stolen. It was while they were conning and murdering their way across the eastern hemisphere that Knippenberg patiently collected newspaper clippings, read through police reports, and interviewed law enforcement and witnesses for years, patiently matching aliases and building a case against Sobhraj, whose real name he uncovered during this process. All against the wishes of his embassy, his wife, and many of the police in the jurisdictions in question.

THINGS FALL APART

Back in the early days, Sobhraj had run a scam on three young French ex-policemen, stealing their passports and then “miraculously” recovering them, earning their undying gratitude. These three men had been central members of Sobhraj’s coterie in Thailand, helping him with his “business” but unaware of the murders. After the death of Charmayne Carrou and the disappearance of Henk and Cornelia, they became suspicious and broke into Sobhraj’s office during one of his frequent trips abroad. They were horrified to discover a cache of dozens upon dozens of stolen passports and other documents, correctly assuming that at least some of these must have been obtained by murder. They fled Thailand with the assistance of a brave and generous couple who were acquainted with Sobhraj and willing to put their lives on the line to help them. And being ex-policemen, they stopped off and told the Thai police everything they knew before they left.

This led to the Thai authorities executing a search warrant on the Sobhraj apartment complex, as well as granting Knippenberg, who was back in Thailand doing whatever “third secretaries” do, permission to attend the search. They uncovered dozens of passports and travel documents – the kinds of documents no traveller would willingly leave behind – as well as industrial quantities of laxatives, poisons, and sedatives. As a result of this, the Thai authorities were able to issue a warrant for the arrest of “Alain Gautier” for multiple murders, and Knippenberg, with the help of Sobhraj’s neighbour, was able to seriously ramp up his own independent investigation. It was through these efforts, and in conjunction with Interpol, who had a sizeable file on Sobhraj without yet being able to match his aliases, that Knippenberg was eventually able to connect him and his followers to multiple murders. It’s worth noting here that Interpol are acknowledged, both generally and by Knippenberg himself, to be the other heroes of this story, their dogged and ceaseless pursuit of Sobhraj being a major factor in his eventual capture.

Upon discovering that the three Frenchmen had flown the coop, Sobhraj put two and two together and fled with his remaining followers to Calcutta and Delhi. While in these places he found the time to murder a Jewish academic, Avoni Jacob [YAH-kov], and used his passport to travel to Singapore. Once there, he travelled back to Thailand, murdered an American to assume his identity, and was brought in by police to be questioned about his three ex-gendarmes’ allegations, as well as Knippenberg’s findings. Much to Herman Knippenberg’s and Interpol’s frustration, Sobhraj and his followers were released after payment of a 300,000 baht bribe. This is just under 10,000USD – not the smallest sum, but a ridiculously low one for a bribe to get away with murder. After this they stopped briefly in Malaysia where Sobhraj appears to have turned his attention to cleaning his own house. While the facts have never been firmly established, it’s believed Sobhraj sent his long-time lieutenant Ajay Chowdry to a small mining town in Malaysia on a jewel trading errand, and probably murdered or had him murdered there. Either way, Chowdry disappeared without a trace from that moment, missing presumed dead.

Sobhraj then headed to Bombay and attempted to rob and drug a Frenchman named Jean-Luc Solomon, only to have him succumb to the poison and die. This led him and his followers to flee to New Delhi, where he, Marie, and two other women somehow persuaded a group of sixty French engineering students to hire them as tour guides. It was here that Sobhraj finally overreached himself by attempting to run his “poison people and nurse them back to health” scam on all sixty of them at once. Sobhraj made up some pills, which he claimed were anti-malarial (some reports say anti-dysentery), but never having dosed people on this scale before, it all went horribly wrong. For all you budding criminals out there, it’s worth noting that the drug receptivity of individuals can vary wildly across relatively small sample sizes, and if you want to get uniform effect across, let’s say, sixty people of different weights, genders, and states of health, carefully calibrated dosages need to be applied. This is absolutely what Sobhraj did not do, and when about twenty of the students passed out, moaning and thrashing and presumably shitting everywhere because of the laxatives mixed in with the sedatives, the burlier students smelled a rat (among other things), overpowered him, and called the police.

LIVING IT LARGE IN TIHAR AND FRANCE

Sobhraj and his followers were locked up in Tihar Maximum Security Facility, where we began our tale. Sobhraj, having swallowed a bunch of gemstones left over from a previous scam, proceeded to bribe his way into being king of the prison. In the meantime, Marie LeClerc and the two other women, Barbara Smith and Mary Ellen Eather, had been locked up in the women’s wing. Sobhraj made no attempt to look after his followers, possibly as he was supremely confident of their loyalty. As far as Marie LeClerc – who could rate a whole video of her own – was concerned, he was right. But Barbara and Mary Ellen were addicts he’d picked up in Bombay – classic “lost girls” who’d only recently fallen under his sway. The combination of horrific conditions and intensive interrogation led them to cave in quite quickly, spilling the beans on the entire operation so far as they knew it. Both women subsequently attempted suicide. Sobhraj was sentenced to twelve years, despite doing his level best to turn the trial into a circus and disrupt it at every turn. A sentence he ironically might have avoided if he’d ever attempted or even thought to look after someone other than himself.

It was during his luxurious stay at Tihar that Sobhraj realised he wouldn’t be locked up for long enough to avoid the Thai warrant for his arrest, which was valid for twenty years, and would almost certainly result in his execution. So he engineered his shambolic prison escape by drugging the guards at his ‘birthday party’. After his re-arrest and admittedly far less luxurious second stint in prison, he was released in 1997 after twenty years. Sobhraj claimed French citizenship on the strength of his stepfather and was allowed to settle there. While in France, Sobhraj conducted himself as a celebrity, charging large sums of money for interviews, appearing on several television shows, and even charging himself out as a sort of birthday clown, by which I mean that you could pay a few thousand dollars to have lunch or dinner with the celebrity murderer. During this time an Indian film production house paid for the rights to his life story, and it looked as if everything was coming up roses for Sobhraj. Herman Knippenberg, who had by this time retired and remarried, said he found this period particularly galling, and we can only guess what it was like for the families of his victims.

AS A DOG RETURNETH TO ITS VOMIT

“As a dog returneth to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly” is a Biblical verse I struggled to understand during my years in Catholic school. Thankfully, as an adult, I’m no longer compelled to analyse abstruse Bible quotes, but the case of Charles Sobhraj made me suddenly understand this one. Sobhraj was a free man and living it large. So long as he remained in France, nobody could touch him for all the crimes he’d committed. His warrants had lapsed almost everywhere except Nepal and a couple of other places, the two people who knew pretty much everything he’d done were no threat – Ajay had been disappeared and Marie Leclerc – paroled after being diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer – was now dead. So when in 2003, Sobhraj travelled to Nepal – one of the few countries still actively seeking him – reportedly to set up a mineral water business, it was like a dog “returneth-ing” to its vomit. Within a very short time, a journalist spotted him walking down a Kathmandu street, a casino manager photographed him compulsively gambling, and he was arrested for multiple murders.

Sobhraj’s arrest made headlines around the world, but very few people would have been as excited as Herman Knippenberg, now retired and living in New Zealand. Knippenberg says, “I was sitting down with my wife having breakfast, eating pancakes, and I was thinking I will never have to go into an office again. Then there was a phone call. I said, ‘It’s a miracle! He’s been arrested in Nepal. I have to be quick.’ I ran down the stairs to my garage where there were six boxes of evidence that I had taken all over the world and I fished out one of the files and called Interpol.” Knippenberg’s evidence was crucial in securing Sobhraj’s conviction, and to this day Charles Sobhraj “The Bikini Killer” is serving a life sentence in Nepal.

DISMEMBERED APPENDICES

  1. Nobody knows how many people Sobhraj killed, and even around the known killings there are discrepancies and uncertainties which might never be resolved. It’s important, however, to respect and remember his victims, so here is a list of the people that we know for certain were murdered by Charles Sobhraj:

Teresa Knowlton

Vitali Hakim

Charmayne Carrou

Hank Bintanja

Cornelia Hemker

Connie Bronzich

Laurent Ormond Carriere [law-ront or-mond carry-yay]

Avoni Jacob

Jean-Luc Solomon

  1. Of the many accounts of his life, The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj, by Australian husband and wife journalists Richard Neville and Julie Clark, is probably the most comprehensive. Once caveat, though, is that it relies very heavily on Sobhraj’s own testimony, much of which is obviously fabricated and all of which he subsequently denied. Which he would, having for some reason admitted to a bunch of murders during their interviews.
  1. Sobhraj’s story is so convoluted and confused, it’s not actually possible to compile a coherent account which is sure to be 100% true. For what we do actually know, we’re heavily indebted to Herman Knippenberg and Neville and Clark, as well as many other journalists who have followed his trail and sat through his long, narcissistic ramblings. Having sat through quite a few of these self-serving, lie-infested monologues for this video, I applaud their sacrifice.
  1. In 2007, Sobhraj married his lawyer’s twenty-year-old daughter, Nihita Biswas, who had acted as interpreter between them, in a prison wedding. Nepali authorities deny the validity of the marriage and Nihita denies Sobhraj ever committed any murders. According to Nihita, Charles is a “complex person” who “isn’t a bad man”, proving at least some of Sobhraj’s talents haven’t faded with age.
  1. If some of elements of this story remind you of Charles Manson, this is no coincidence. Manson was apparently a hero to Sobhraj, and he himself says he consciously attempted to emulate his career, which is described in an excellently written video on this very channel.
  1. Thankfully, it seems unlikely Sobhraj will ever be released, despite Nepal’s habit of letting elderly prisoners go. Now in his late seventies, and survivor of several heart surgeries, multiple appeals for his release have been denied and there are still outstanding indictments against him for other murders. So it looks like The Bikini Killer’s going to rot in prison forever.

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