‘Jackal’ saviour fails to defend Sobhraj in Nepal

March 15th, 2008 - 1:03 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of National Geographic
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, March 15 (IANS) In her home country France, she was dubbed “Terror’s Advocate” for fighting legal battles on behalf of some of the world’s most notorious men, but Isabelle Coutant-Peyre’s plan to defend Charles Sobhraj, serving a life term for murder in Nepal, has come to naught with the country’s judicial system once again postponing his last fight for freedom. Coutant-Peyre had famously defended Ilych Ramirez Sanchez aka Carlos the “Jackal”, who was one of the masterminds of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre in which nine Jewish athletes were killed.

The cigar-smoking, chic lawyer was scheduled to argue in Nepal’s Supreme Court Sunday in a bid to prove to the two judges hearing Sobhraj’s appeal that a so-called “confession CD” conjured up by the state attorneys was fictitious as well as slanderous.

Coutant-Peyre, who has also written to Nepal’s King Gyanendra as well as French president Nicolas Sarkozy for her 64-year-old client’s release, had to cancel her plan as the court authorities said the trial would not resume Sunday.

One of the two judges has been put on a different state mission, resulting in yet another delay in the last appeal that has been now dragging on for nearly three years.

Sobhraj, once dubbed the “Serpent” by the tabloid press for claiming that he could escape from any prison, no matter how stringent the security, was sighted in Kathmandu in 2003 and arrested by police who say he killed an American tourist and her Canadian companion way back in 1975.

However, they could not charge him with the murder of the Canadian since the nearly three-decade old case file could not be located.

A district court found Sobhraj guilty of the murder of American Connie Jo Bronzich and slapped him a life term.

Sobhraj has been fighting the verdict, saying he did not get a fair trial and police faked evidence.

After a court of appeals too upheld the guilty verdict, he went to Nepal’s apex court.

But in a surprise turn of events, instead of giving the final verdict, the Supreme Court asked the government to re-open an old passport forgery case against Sobhraj, though two earlier courts had dismissed the case.

It is felt that due to Sobhraj’s past reputation, the judges are wary of ordering his release, fearing a backlash.

Sobhraj claims a former Dutch diplomat is stalking him and feeding the state lawyers “fabricated documents” to keep him behind bars.

Recently, the prosecution produced a CD in court, telling the judges that it contained confessions by Sobhraj to the Interpol, admitting to dozens of murders and passport forgeries.

Sobhraj alleged that it was actually a fictitious documentary aired by National Geographic that had nothing to do with Interpol.

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