Controversial composer brings grief to Sobhraj’s family

October 14th, 2008 - 6:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, Oct 14 (IANS) A highly controversial American composer has brought grief to Charles Sobhraj’s new family in Nepal by making “jokes” about the alleged serial killer’s life and lifestyle, which were aired as authentic expert information by a Nepali television channel Monday.David James Woodard, a 44-year-old composer from California, who has been in controversies repeatedly for apparently championing Nazism and defending Timothy McVeigh, the 27-year-old former American soldier who co-planned the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 that killed 168 people, has been camping in Kathmandu since May, writing a book on the bitterly contentious subject of Nueva Germania.

It is based on the project by Elisabeth Nietzche-Forster, sister of philosopher Friedrich Nietzche, to found an Aryan colony in the jungles of Paraguay in 1886 that would be the promised land - Nueva Germania - inhabited by an all-white society that would eventually lead to the “purification and rebirth of the human nation”.

Woodard, described variously as eccentric, a neo-Nazi and an attention seeker, went to Kathmandu’s Central Prison soon after his arrival to meet Sobhraj, as he knew about the “Bikini Killer” of yesteryear and his criminal career after reading a book on Sobhraj, The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke.

“I knew only (about) two men in Nepal,” Woodard told IANS. “They were Sobhraj, who was like a neighbour, and the (deposed) king. But I was more interested in Sobhraj.”

After he had visited 64-year-old Sobhraj several times, Woodard’s “best friend”, German pop writer Christian Kracht, suggested that he write a biography of Sobhraj, which would cover aspects of the latter’s life no one else had delved into, like the books Sobhraj read, his aesthetic taste and his culinary preferences.

Now known in Nepal as the man who is penning Sobhraj’s biography, the American was mobbed at his hotel in Kathmandu by a Nepali television station that went on to air a programme on Sobhraj, his “marriage” to his Nepali fiancee Nihita Biswas and his “extravagant” lifestyle in prison.

“There were 14 witnesses present at the wedding inside the prison,” Woodard told the media. “However, it was a traditional Nepali wedding and not a French one. So there were no kisses.”

On Monday night, the comment was aired with Nepali subtitles that claimed the “newlyweds” kissed each other.

Woodard also told the TV station that Sobhraj was fond of red wine and Italian food: pasta with red sauce, ravioli and spaghetti as well as Italian bread.

About Sobhraj’s personal life, Woodard added that he had three daughters.

“It’s all untrue,” a shocked Nihita told IANS. “Let alone red wine, Charles never drinks or smokes. He doesn’t eat Italian food in prison but the ordinary Nepali dishes we take him - vegetables and pickles.”

She also pointed out that Sobhraj, who was married to a French woman and had a girlfriend after divorcing her, has only two daughters.

Nihita’s mother Shakuntala Thapa, who is also Sobhraj’s lawyer, is worried that the unreal image the Woodard interview conjured up of Sobhraj could influence the Supreme Court judges who would be hearing his appeal against the life term next week.

“The interview with Woodard ends with the insinuation that Charles is a dangerous man who could be a risk to the jail authorities,” Thapa said. “Since it is obvious Woodard is not close to Charles and doesn’t know the basic things about him, he shouldn’t be taken as an expert on Charles.”

A contrite Woodard said he was shocked to hear about the grief he had caused unwittingly.

He said the TV station’s reporters had laid siege to his hotel and forced him to appear before them.

“They asked me silly questions, I was irritated and so I started joking,” he said. “The ability to joke with a straight face runs in my family. I never thought it would be taken seriously.”

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