Charles Sobhraj is a French national who had created a series of killings in the 1970s in SE Asia. His victims were mainly Western tourists and he was also nicknamed as bikini killer, The Splitting Killer, or the Serpent. The latter name he acquired due to his ability to change his appearance to avoid recognition and arrest.
He is a psychopath and cunning and cultured person. He was in the Indian jail from 1976 to 1997 and is currently in Nepal prison. A look back at the life of this unique personality and his life!
Charles and his early days
Charles was born as Hatchand Bhaonani Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj on 6 April 1944. His father Sobhraj Hatchard Bavani was an Indian Sindhi while his mother was a Vietnamese. His birthplace is Saigon, Vietnam. His parents were unmarried and his father deserted them. His mother had a French boyfriend who was an Army Lieutenant stationed in Indo-China. He was adopted by his mother’s boyfriend but was neglected when the couple had their children.
The unsupervised young Charles began committing petty crimes and his first jail sentence came in 1963. He managed to lead a lavish life inside the jail by bribing the prison guards. He befriended people of the high society of Paris and also the criminal world. He did scams and burglaries and in 1970 escaped with his wife Chantal Compagnon to Mumbai through East Europe. He did car thefts and smuggling and was arrested in 1973.
The escape to Kabul
In 1973, he was arrested during an armed robbery and imprisoned. He feigned illness and escaped to Kabul. He again gave the police a slip and went to Iran. He left his wife and child behind who then returned to France.
He was on the run for the next two years traveling countries such as Greece and Turkey on stolen passports. His brother Andre was caught and he managed to escape and this time went to Thailand posing there as a gem salesman. He had a girlfriend named Marie-Andree Leclerc and an Indian called Ajay Chowdhury who helped him in his robberies and murders.
The modus operandi
They would befriend tourists and later kill them and take away their money and passport. They would first poison them and later save them to win their confidence. They also formed a small gang which they would use to help them escape in case of any eventuality. They carried out several murders in Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, and India. While trying to tick a French under-graduate student gang, he and his accomplices were caught and overpowered by the students and handed over to the police.
They were imprisoned for 12 years. He led a lavish life there with good food and TV. He gave interviews and met people for autobiographies and documentaries on his life. He earned a lot through these modes.
His method to escape Thailand capture
While in jail during the 10th year, he came to know that Thailand may seek his extradition and after trial, he may face execution there. Hence he drugged the Indian jail personnel during a party which he threw for them and managed to escape to Goa. He was rearrested and his jail term was extended by 10 years. This was what he had wanted! And Charles was thus saved from the likely execution in Thailand.
The release and return to France as a celebrity and Nepal imprisonment
On 17 February 1997, he was released and returned to France where he lived the life of a celebrity. He also cashed in on the rights of a movie which he sold to a production house. He came to Nepal (reason unknown) in 2003 and was seen by a journalist and caught at the casino of Yak and Yeti Hotel. On 20 August 2004, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Attempts to get him released from jail by his French wife and his wife in Nepal proved futile He is now lodged in Kathmandu jail.
His personal life
He had married Chantal and has a daughter named Usha who was born in India in 1970. He also was in a relationship with Marie-Andree Leclerc who later died in 1984 due to ovarian cancer. He has said that he is married to a Nepali woman called Nihita Biswas but the jail authorities refute his claim.