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Last Updated: Monday, 20 October, 2003, 11:02 GMT 12:02 UK
'Serial killer' charged in Nepal
Sobhraj in custody
Sobhraj allegedly confessed his crimes to an Australian biographer
Notorious criminal Charles Sobhraj has been formally charged in a Nepal court with the murder of two women tourists.

If found guilty of killing the two backpackers in 1975, the 59-year-old Frenchman could face life imprisonment.

He was detained in Nepal last month on immigration charges and has also been charged with using a forged passport.

Sobhraj, who spent 20 years in a Delhi prison for drugging tourists and stealing from them, has denied any involvement in the murders.

During the hippy heyday of south Asia in the 1970s, Sobhraj was a suspect in 20 murder cases - but was never convicted in any of them.

His knack for disguise and deception earned him the nickname, "The Serpent".

'Fake' passport

At a preliminary hearing in Kathmandu District Court on Monday, prosecutors charged Sobhraj with the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich of California and Laurent Ormond Carriere of Canada.

Their charred bodies were found outside Kathmandu nearly 30 years ago.

Sobhraj maintains he has never been in Nepal until his visit this year.

But the Nepalese authorities say Sobhraj used a fake Dutch passport on his previous visit to the country, and have already charged him for this.

Despite having allegedly told a biographer he had killed Western tourists, a successful murder conviction has yet to be brought against Sobhraj.

Sobhraj was born to Indian and Vietnamese parents and has French citizenship through his Vietnamese background.

After completing his prison term in India in 1997, he was deported to France.

He was arrested in a Kathmandu casino last month.




SEE ALSO:
Infamous criminal in Nepal court
22 Sep 03  |  South Asia
Nepal holds serial murder suspect
19 Sep 03  |  South Asia


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