UN dragged into Charles Sobhraj case in Nepal

May 7th, 2008 - 5:08 pm ICT by admin  

By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, May 7 (IANS) Leaving no stone unturned as he fights a life sentence in Nepal, yesteryear’s “bikini killer” Charles Sobhraj is asking the United Nations (UN) to prosecute a group of people who invoked the world body’s name to allegedly implicate him in a string of murder cases around the globe. Acting on his instructions, Sobhraj’s French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre flew to Kathmandu from Paris to lodge a formal complaint Wednesday with the UN’s country director in Nepal, Anne-Isabelle Degryse-Blateau.

She is asking the UN to prosecute the yet to be identified group of people who have hosted a web site from the Netherlands, creating a montage of photographs that include those of an American tourist killed in Nepal in 1975, the police inspector who investigated the murder, Sobhraj himself and his two associates and a host of other people who were questioned by the police in connection with the sensational Kathmandu murder.

The site - sobhrajtheserpent.co.nr - gives the appearance of being an official document.

Titled “Global circumstantial evidence”, it includes the file number of the case in Nepal’s Supreme Court, a list of the hotels where the police say Sobhraj stayed in 1975 and 2003, when he was arrested and put behind bars, as well as his past criminal record, complete with the jail terms he served.

Nepal’s state lawyers, who are fighting tooth and nail Sobhraj’s appeal against the life term, presented a printout of the site as evidence to the two judges hearing the final appeal in Supreme Court.

“In this case, we’ve seen a variety of ‘evidence’,” said Sobhraj’s lawyer. “They vary from media reports to films to fiction.”

What the battery of the French national’s lawyers are objecting to is the site makers using the logo of the UN and Interpol on top of the site, giving it the appearance of an official document with the apparent involvement of the two international organisations.

However, neither Interpol nor the UN are associated with the site in any way.

“It is a legal offence for private parties to use the UN and Interpol logos,” said Coutant-Peyre. “When we first brought it to the notice of the UN, we were told the UN has asked its legal division in its New York headquarters to look into the matter.”

As the site is hosted from the Netherlands, Sobhraj’s team feels it smacks of involvement by former Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg, who they allege has been stalking Sobhraj and feeding Nepal police falsified evidence to implicate him in the murder of Connie Jo Bronzich, an American backpacker whose burnt body was found in Kathmandu in 1975.

“He is obsessed with my trial,” Sobhraj told IANS from the stringently guarded Kathmandu central jail, where he has been staying since 2004, after Kathmandu’s district court found him guilty of Bronzich’s murder.

Knippenberg is associated with a documentary that portrays Sobhraj as a serial killer and has written an article in the Reader’s Digest one year ago, in which he projected himself as the sleuth who busted Sobhraj’s crime racket.

Lawyers in Nepal, appointed by Bronzich’s family, tabled the article and documentary as evidence before the Supreme Court.

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