Sobhraj readies to sue Dhondy over ‘Bikini Murders’November 16th, 2008 - 6:43 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Nov 16 (IANS) Within 48 hours of launching his new book “The Bikini Murders” in New Delhi, author and screenplay writer Farrukh Dhondy is all set to get the kind of controversy needed to make the book a bestseller. His “old friend” Charles Sobhraj, who according to media reports is the prototype of the Saigon-born hero in Dhondy’s book, is readying to sue the author.”My French and British lawyers are reading the book,” Sobhraj told IANS Sunday in Kathmandu’s Central Jail, where he is serving a life sentence for the murder of an American tourist in 1975.
“We would like to sue the publishers, Harper Collins, in London though the book was published by Harper Collins India, since then the damages are going to be substantially higher.”
The 64-year-old, who is expecting his appeal against the verdict to be resolved in his favour by Nepal’s Supreme Court by this year, also rubbishes Dhondy’s claim that he knew Sobhraj, who became a kind of cult figure in the 1970s for his audacious crimes in over a dozen countries, well enough to write his biography.
“Dhondy was just a middle man who was trying to make money by introducing me to film makers,” he said.
Sobhraj claims Dhondy introduced him to film makers Shekhar Kapur and Ismail Merchant to make biopics on him but the deals fell through due to his insistence on certain matters.
“Anybody can make money by claiming to write a book on Charles Sobhraj,” he said dismissively. “Dhondy is also trying to do it. He never knew me well as he is implying, much of what he tells the media is gleaned from the media itself.”
As an example, Sobhraj enumerates the incident of the Indian Airlines plane hijack from Kathmandu in 1999 which was organised to ensure the release of Masood Azhar, founder of the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed.
“I knew Masood well since he and I shared the same prison section in Tihar,” Sobhraj said. “But I never rescued him from goons.”
He also claims that it was the Indian government who sought his help to negotiate with the hijackers.
“Then Indian external affairs minister Jaswant Singh sent an envoy to Paris to meet me,” Sobhraj claimed. “The envoy met me twice in Paris and India’s central Intelligence Bureau was in touch with me till the hostages were released.”
In the past, Sobhraj successfully fought several publishers and film companies eager to cash in on his formidable reputation.
“Serpentine”, one of the two books regarded as authoritative works on his life and crimes, had to change the names of the characters in order to escape a defamation suit.