Charles Sobhraj catches infection from police handcuffs

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : A month after a Nepali agony aunt advised Charles Sobhraj’s 20-year-old fiancée to make him undergo an HIV test before they married, the yesteryear’s crime maestro has developed an acute infection in his fingers.

Support TwoCircles

However, the 64-year-old, serving a 20-year jail term for murder in Kathmandu’s Central Prison, has not been allowed by the prison authorities to receive medical treatment for his condition.

To make matters worse, Sobhraj, whose exploits across the world inspired a series of books and documentary films, is being kept handcuffed 24 hours inside his prison cell.

He has also had his visiting rights drastically slashed.

Sobhraj’s fiancée Nihita Biswas and her mother, lawyer Shakuntala Thapa, who is defending him in his ongoing appeal against the life term, say he caught the infection from the handcuffs.

Sobhraj, who had lived like a king in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail in the 80s, has come a cropper in the dingy Kathmandu prison where his fame and money have not been able to protect him from other prisoners who proved to be more powerful.

The French national picked a fight with a fellow prisoner, Tashi Lama, who is charged with trafficking women. Subsequently, his fiancée complained to the home ministry as well as media that Lama had threatened him with death.

Once the allegations became public, the Central Jail authorities swung into action.

However, instead of Lama, they chose to swoop down on Sobhraj.

Besides being kept handcuffed inside his cell for the last four days, Sobhraj is also not allowed to receive visitors more than twice a week though other prisoners can have visitors all seven days.

The restriction has drastically affected his diet.

Dependent on visitors to bring him food from outside, Sobhraj is virtually starving.

Though his lawyers appealed for help to the National Human Rights Commission and the French Embassy, there has been no redress.

Now it is doubtful if he will be able to attend the final hearings in Nepal’s Supreme Court due to his condition.

Sobhraj was sighted in a Kathmandu casino five years ago and arrested by police, who charged him with the murder of an American tourist, Connie Jo Bronzich, in 1975.

Sobhraj says he never came to Nepal before 2003 and police faked the evidence to concoct a murder case against him.

Nepal’s Supreme Court is expected to deliver its final verdict this year.

While fighting his sentence, Sobhraj continued to make waves worldwide by becoming engaged to a 20-year-old Nepali girl last month.

If the apex court refuses to release him, Sobhraj says his fiancée will go to the International Court of Justice to fight his case.