Charles Sobhraj moves UN for justiceDecember 1st, 2008 - 11:32 am ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Dec 1 (IANS) Charles Sobhraj, who is serving a life sentence here for the 1975 murder of an American tourist, has now moved the UN for justice, filing a complaint against the government of Nepal.This is not the 64-year-old celebrated international criminal’s first complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee mandated to monitor the implementation of the 1966 UN treaty, Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Nepal is among the 162 states that are party to the UN pact and Sobhraj is alleging that the country has been violating his rights since 2004, when it pronounced him guilty of the murder of an American tourist and sent him behind bars for 20 years.
Sobhraj, also known as “the Bikini Killer”, says he is caught between a tardy judicial system that has not been able to pronounce a final verdict on him even after four years and a prison system that treats him as highly dangerous and withholds the privileges allowed to other inmates.
According to Sobhraj’s Paris-based French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, she filed a complaint with the UN committee last week, saying her client is being held prisoner in Kathmandu without evidence while the judicial authorities have been dawdling on his appeal for four years.
The appeal to the UN rights body comes after two earlier ones were rejected.
In 2004, after he was found guilty of the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975, and in 2005, after a court of appeals upheld the sentence, Coutant-Peyre had taken her client’s case to Geneva.
However, the UN body said all available internal appeals had not been exhausted. Till then, it said the case would remain in the hands of the Nepali authorities.
Now, in her third dogged complaint, the French lawyer is saying that since the case has far exceeded a “reasonable deadline”, it ought to be examined by the UN panel.
The lawyer says that Nepal’s “Supreme Court proceedings are erratic, absurd, endlessly and indefinitely postponed, and without any determined timeframe”. There have been 38 hearings on the appeal without the judges delivering the final verdict.
Once, she says, the hearing was postponed because one of the judges was absent due to his daughter’s wedding. Another time, almost after two years of hearing, the judges ordered that a minor case be reopened “pretending they had overlooked one aspect!”
The lawyer also says in her complaint that police have not been able to produce the original documents which they say prove that Sobhraj had come to Nepal in 1975.
Also, the conditions in the Central Jail in Kathmandu, where Sobhraj is being held since his arrest from a casino in the capital in 2003, amount to torture, the lawyer says.
“Charles Gurmukh Sobhraj was arbitrarily confined in isolation, in a nearly permanent way, without any particular motive and without any recourse,” her complaint says.
“During the summer of 2008, he was even chained - again in isolation - under the false pretext of a conflict with another prisoner, publicly known for being an extortioner, and despite the fact that death threats had been pronounced against him by that man.”
It remains to be seen how the UN body regards Sobhraj’s third complaint.
Meanwhile, his case is scheduled to come up for hearing at the apex court on Dec 8.