Court orders release of serial killer Charles 'The Serpent' Sobhraj

In this file photo taken on June 12, 2014 French serial killer Charles Sobhraj (center) is escorted by Nepalese police at a district court for a hearing on a case related to the murder of a Canadian backpacker in Bhaktapur on June 12, 2014. (AFP)
In this file photo taken on June 12, 2014 French serial killer Charles Sobhraj (center) is escorted by Nepalese police at a district court for a hearing on a case related to the murder of a Canadian backpacker in Bhaktapur on June 12, 2014. (AFP)

Nepal's top court ordered on Wednesday the release of Charles Sobhraj, the French serial killer portrayed in the Netflix series "The Serpent" who was responsible for a string of murders across Asia in the 1970s.

The Supreme Court ruled Sobhraj, 78, who has been in prison in Nepal since 2003 for murdering two North American tourists, should be freed on health grounds.

Sobhraj began travelling the world in the early 1970s and stayed in Bangkok.

He charmed and befriended his victims -- many of them Western backpackers -- before drugging, robbing and murdering them.

He was implicated in his first murder, that of a young American woman whose body was found on a beach in Pattaya, in 1975.

He was eventually linked to more than 20 killings. His victims were strangled, beaten or burned, and he often used the passports of his male victims to travel to his next destination.

Sobhraj's nickname, "The Serpent", came from his ability to assume other identities in order to evade justice. It became the title of a hit series made by the BBC and Netflix that was based on his life.

He was arrested in India in 1976, after a French tourist died from poisoning at a Delhi hotel, and was sentenced to 12 years for murder.

Sobhraj spent 21 years in jail, with a brief break in 1986 when he escaped and was caught again in the Indian coastal state of Goa.

Released in 1997, Sobhraj retired to Paris but resurfaced in 2003 in Nepal, where he was spotted in Kathmandu's tourist district and arrested.

A court there handed him a life sentence the following year for killing a US tourist in 1975.

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Vocabulary

  • charm: (v) to please somebody to make them do what you want -
  • evade: to avoid or escape from someone or something - หลีกเลี่ยง
  • grounds: reasons for saying or doing something - เหตุผล
  • implicate: to show or suggest that someone is involved in wrongdoing - โยงใยถึง
  • justice: a fair result or punishment from a court of law - ความยุติธรรม
  • life sentence: a punishment of life in prison - จำคุกตลอดชีวิต
  • nickname: an informal name for someone or something, especially a name which you are called by your friends or family, usually based on your proper name or your character - ชื่อเล่น
  • poison (verb): to put poison in or on something - วางยาพิษ
  • serial killer: a person who murders a series of people -
  • strangle: to kill somebody by squeezing or pressing on their throat and neck - ฆ่าโดยการบีบคอ
  • supreme court: the highest court in a country - ศาลฎีกา, ศาลสูงสุด
  • victims : people who are killed injured or harmed in some way from an accident, natural disaster, crime, etc. - เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
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