Witnesses depose in Sobhraj case

Kathmandu, January 1:

The Supreme Court today recorded the statements of a former police officer and a driver who reportedly saw Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj in Nepal in 1975.

Former SP Chandra Bir Rai, 79, and driver Purna Bahadur Maharjan, 67, told the apex court that they had met Sobhraj then and that Sobhraj was involved in the murder of two foreign nationals. Rai had interrogated Sobhraj in 1975 in the murder case and later reported the Ministry of Home Affairs, seeking his extradition from India and Maharjan had driven him in Kathmandu in a car belonging to Gorkha Travels. “Sobhraj had visited Nepal then; his claim that he did not visit Nepal before 2003 is false,” Rai told The Himalayan Times after attending the court.

“He had visited Nepal several times and we had interrogated him in connection with the murder of American national Connie Jo Bronzich and Canadian National Laurent Armand Carriere,” Rai said.

“At that time we had a strong belief that foreigners are not questionable. On the other hand, Sobhraj showed good behaviour that made us think initially that he might be innocent. But, later after we got information about him, we reached the conclusion that he had committed the crime,” he added.

“We had gathered evidence that he had visited Nepal after killing Henricus Bintanja in Thailand,” Rai claimed. “It has been proved that criminals cannot escape unpunished from Nepal, and our record-keeping system is also strong,” he said.

Maharjan said: “Though I cannot remember all the events, I can at least remember Sobhraj’s face.” A division bench comprising Justice Kedar Prasad Giri and Justice Sharada Prasad Pundit is hearing the case.