KATHMANDU, Feb 21: International serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who has been serving a jail sentence in Nepal since the last 14 years, has received a huge reprieve from the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Justices Kedar Prasad Chalise and Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai has decided to grant a jail term reprieve to Sobhraj, who is in jail for committing two murders in this country.
Following the judgment, Sobhraj will not be required to serve the 40-year jail term for the killing of US national Connie Jo Bronzich and Canadian national Laurent Armand Carriere. He now needs to serve only 24 years for the two crimes.
Sobhraj was arrested in Nepal on September 16, 2003 for the 1975 murder of US national Connie. He was convicted of the murder by the Supreme Court and handed a 20-year jail sentence. Later, Bhaktapur District Court convicted him for another murder, that of Canadian national Carrier, and handed him another jail term of 20 years, taking his total jail term to 40 years.
He challenged the Bhaktapur District Court decision at the Appellate Court Patan, but his appeal was rejected.
“Since the decision to impose the jail term has not been found adequately grounded it has been decided to quash it,” the full text of the apex court judgment stated. “And it has directed Bhaktapur District Court to reset the jail term in line with this order.” Though the decision was issued on October 18, the full text was made public by the apex court only later.
Stating that Sobhraj did not commit the crime of killing Carrier after he had been arrested and convicted for the previous crime but had committed the second offense before his arrest, the apex court decided to grant him a jail term reprieve as per Sections 8 and 41 of the Fines and Punishment Chapter of the Mulki Ain or General Legal Code.
Sobhraj had moved the then Patan Appellate Court after being convicted by Bhaktapur District Court in the killing of Carriere. But as the latter did not entertain his plea he moved the apex court last year. In his petition, he claimed that the lower court was biased against him.