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French lawyer can't defend 'Bikini Killer' Sobhraj

Source: PTI
Last updated on: May 07, 2008 14:51 IST
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Nepal's Supreme Court has barred a French lawyer from defending 'Bikini Killer' Charles Shobhraj, serving a life sentence since 2004 for the murder of an American tourist three decades ago.

A division bench comprising Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Kalyan Shrestha rejected the plea by French lawyer Isabelle Coutant Peyre to defend Sobhraj, 64, during a hearing on Tuesday, saying that the court does not have such precedence, officials said.

Sobhraj, a half-Vietnamese and half-Indian, is a French national.

However, the court said that the foreign lawyer can assist the Nepali lawyers in any case.

Sobhraj, convicted of murdering an American woman in Kathmandu in 1975, had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the life sentence given to him by the Kathmandu District Court for the murder of American backpacker Connie Bronzich but the apex court had in December refused him any reprieve.

The court ruled that the status quo will be maintained in the matter and ordered reopening of another fake passport case against him. It said that both the cases will be heard simultaneously.

At the hearing on Tuesday in the fake passport case, Sobhraj's lawyers argued that he did not come to Nepal in 1975, when he allegedly committed the murder of two foreign tourists.

Also known as 'Serpent' for his ability to evade arrest, Sobhraj is suspected to have killed at least 12 travellers in India, Thailand and Nepal in the 1970s. He was arrested from Casino Royale in Kathmandu in August 2003.
 
He had sent a written statement to the Nepal Supreme Court earlier claiming that his conviction by the district court was based on false news reports and documents without any eyewitness account being produced by the prosecution
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