Nepal court rejects French 'bikini killer' petition

Nepal's supreme court has rejected a petition to review its decision to uphold the murder conviction of Charles Sobhraj, the alleged serial killer linked to backpacker deaths in Asia in the 1970s.

Sobhraj, a French citizen of Vietnamese and Indian parentage, nicknamed the ‘bikini killer’ is serving a life sentence in Nepal for the murder of American tourist Connie Joe Bronzich in 1975.

He was found guilty seven years ago of repeatedly knifing Bronzich, setting her on fire and then dumping her body on the outskirts of Kathmandu.

Last year, the supreme court rejected his appeal against the conviction, and has now refused to entertain Sobhraj's petition to review that decision.

"The court didn't accept the petition, saying there was no need to go against the verdict," court spokesman Hemant Rawal told the media.

The 67-year-old, whom police describe as a persuasive con man, has always maintained his innocence in the Bronzich case, saying he had never visited Nepal before he was arrested at a Kathmandu casino in 2003.

He had already served a 21-year sentence in India for culpable homicide before his arrest in Nepal, but until 2004 had never been convicted of murder and his perceived ability to evade justice earned him worldwide notoriety.

Sobhraj is also accused of murdering Laurent Carriere, a Canadian backpacker and friend of Bronzich, whose stabbed and burned body was found a few days after the discovery of the slain American.

Sobhraj's lawyer, Shakuntala Thapa, was quoted by the Kathmandu-based Himalayan Times as saying her client would seek clemency from President Ram Baran Yadav.

"Sobhraj has spent eight years in jail. He also deserves recommendation for clemency," she told the local English-language daily.

Sobhraj has escaped from jails in Greece, Afghanistan and India, where he drugged guards with sedative-laced sweets and walked out of a New Delhi jail.

His talent for disguise, evading justice and breaking out of prisons on two continents earned him another sobriquet, ‘The Serpent’.

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