Sobhraj joins bigamy fray in Nepal

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS,

Kathmandu : After mounting allegations of bigamy by a section of the media and rebuttals – first by his Nepali fiancée and then her lawyer mother, Charles Sobhraj, the man at the heart of the raging controversy, finally took the stage himself Monday defending himself and warning “character assassins” with stiff legal action.

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The 64-year-old, who created a fresh sensation this month when it became public that he had become engaged to a young woman 44 years his junior, issued a press statement from Kathmandu’s central prison, where he has been serving time since 2004, saying that he was neither a “serial killer”, as dubbed by the media, nor a would-be bigamist.

“A section of the media has been continuously calling me a serial killer without any evidence,” the uncharacteristically terse statement said. “I was never convicted of murder by any court. The current conviction by Nepal’s district court is now being heard in the Supreme Court and till the final verdict comes, remains sub judice.”

He also refuted the reports that claimed he was married to a French woman and an Australian.

“It is ridiculous since I can’t be married to both,” the statement said. “I married a French woman in 1969 but she divorced me in 1974. On May 17, 1974 the Tribunal of Nanterre in France issued the divorce decree.”

Sobhraj also claimed that his ex-wife then married an American and had a daughter by him.

“These facts are also mentioned in the two books submitted to the Supreme Court as “evidence” by the prosecution – Serpentine by Thomas Thompson and The Life and Crimes of Charles Sobhraj by Richard Neville and Mary Clarke”, the statement said.

Copies of the statement were sent by his fiancée to Nepal’s media as well as the Federation of Nepalese Journalists and Press Council Nepal, the two biggest media umbrella organisations in the Himalayan state.

Sobhraj told IANS that his lawyers would also lodge complaints with the two media bodies regarding the “lack of professional ethics” by some newspapers that were persistently writing lies about him, stonily ignoring the presence of official documents.

The media in Nepal remains polarised on Sobhraj’s engagement. While a media house is trying to ferret out “exclusives”, the biggest media house in the country, the Kantipur group, has virtually ignored the incident.