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Media fear delaying verdict, says Sobhraj

Kathmandu, Dec. 25 (PTI): Charles Sobhraj, currently serving life imprisonment here for the murder of an American woman over 30 years ago, said that Nepal’s supreme court was delaying a verdict on his appeal due to the fear of media criticism.

The 63-year-old Sobhraj, also known as the “Bikini Killer”, said that he was shocked after the supreme court decided to re-open a fake passport case against him.

According to Sobhraj, the case was earlier dismissed by the lower courts.

French national Sobhraj, who is half-Indian and half-Vietnamese, had filed an appeal before the apex court against the life sentence for murdering backpacker Connie Bronzich here in 1975.

Besides Bronzich, police accuse him of murdering her Canadian companion Laurent Armand Carriere. However,the district court convicted Sobhraj for killing Bronzich only.

Last week, a two-judge supreme court bench delayed a verdict on his appeal and ordered the reopening of the fake passport case.

In an email statement to various media organisations from Kathmandu’s Central Jail, Sobhraj, who is often described as the “serpent” for his skill at deception and evading arrest, said he was innocent and had become a victim of injustice in the Himalayan nation.

Sobhraj alleged that the Nepal judiciary was scared of a section of the media. As a result, he claimed, they were delaying a verdict in his case.

He said the judges were hesitating to apply Nepal’s laws in his case.

Drawing the attention of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the International Commission of Jurists, Nepal parliament Speaker Subhash Nemwang, Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri and his French lawyer Isabelle Coutant Peyre, Sobhraj said all the facts related to his case were available to the court. Still, they did not issue a verdict, he said.

Earlier, Sobhraj had sent a written statement to the supreme court claiming that his conviction by the district court was based on false news reports and documents.

No eyewitness account were produced by the prosecution, Sobhraj said.

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