Serial killer Sobhraj in sentence waiver list

Kathmandu, March 28

Nepal’s jail administration has put French national Charles Sobhraj, 76, a murder convict serving jail sentence in Nepal, on the list of elderly prisoners, who could qualify for waiver of jail sentence.

Jailer of Central Jail Laxmi Bastola said his office had sent a list of 13 prisoners above the age of 65 to Department of Prison, but the list was not for the purpose of waiving Sobhraj’s jail term.

“If the government decides to waive Sobhraj’s jail sentence, then that will be a different issue but the government does not appear to be in the mood to waive Sobhraj’s jail sentence as of now,” he said and added that Sobhraj did not qualify for waiver as he was a foreign national who was serving life term in murder case.

Director of Department of Prison Pradeepraj Kanel told THT that his office had not recommended waiver for Sobhraj’s jail sentence. “We have sought names of elderly prisoners and we are yet to collect their names from prisons. Media reports about DoP recommending Sobhraj’s jail sentence are false,” he added.

Home Ministry Spokesperson, Kedarnath Sharma said there was no question of the ministry recommending waiver of sentence for elderly prisoners as the ministry was yet to receive the list of elderly prisoners from the Department of Prison.

Spokesperson at the Office of the Attorney General, Sanjeeb Raj Regmi said recently a committee that comprised government secretaries, officials from the Supreme Court and Attorney General Agni Kharel had recommended that elderly prisoners, who qualified for sentence waiver under Senior Citizens Act, should be given waiver to reduce crowd in jails in the wake of coronavirus pandemic. “But that committee’s decision is only for Nepali prisoners who qualify for sentence waiver under relevant laws,” he said.

Regmi also said the provision of sentence waiver stipulated by the Senior Citizens Act would only apply to Nepali citizens and not foreigners. “Sobhraj was convicted for two cold-blooded murders and I do not think he would qualify for waiver of sentence,” Regmi added.

Sobhraj, who was involved in a string of murders throughout Asia in the 1970s, was admitted to a Kathmandu-based hospital on 9 June 2017, for open heart surgery. He was taken to the hospital in late May after he suffered heart attack and was diagnosed with a weak valve that needed to be replaced.

The French national, who earned the nickname ‘bikini killer’, was convicted in Nepal in two murder cases and has been in jail here since 2003. In 2014, Sobhraj was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the 1975 murder in Kathmandu of a Canadian tourist Laurent Carriere. In 2004, he was sentenced to life for murdering American tourist Connie Jo Bronzich.