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Sobhraj seeks 7 million euro compensation from Nepal
KATHMANDU, Feb 24 (Agencies):
Published on 25 Feb. 2011 1:08 AM IST
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Almost seven months after he vanished from public eye with Nepal’s Supreme Court judging him guilty of the murder of an American tourist nearly three decades ago, Charles Sobhraj has rallied back, rejecting the verdict and demanding 7 million euro from the government of Nepal as compensation for unlawful imprisonment and violation of his rights.
The 67-year-old’s feisty French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre Tuesday sent letters to the President of Nepal, Dr Ram Baran Yadav, and the Prime Minister’s Office, requesting that the 20-year jail term slapped on him by the apex court in June be dismissed and he be paid compensation for his unfair trial in Nepal, imprisonment “without the slightest piece of evidence”, and the “cruel and inhuman treatment” during his stay in Kathmandu’s Central Jail, where he has been residing since his sensational arrest from a Kathmandu casino in 2003.
The new move comes after three courts in Nepal concurred that Sobhraj had sneaked into Nepal in 1975 using the faked passport of a Dutch tourist, Henricus Bintanja, and killed Connie Jo Bronzich before escaping to India across the open border. Failing to win the battle in Nepal, Sobhraj has stepped up a diplomatic campaign that has now begun to get Nepal’s government worried.
Sobhraj first petitioned the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, which asked Nepal to reply to the charges of injustice within 180 days. Though in its answer sent last month, the Permanent Mission of Nepal said it was refuting the charges, the case has now caught the attention of the French government. French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s chief of the cabinet, Guillaume Lambert, assured Sobhraj’s lawyers that “French authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, will keep on monitoring this situation very closely and will bring Mr Charles Sobhraj the support he is entitled to in the scope of the consular protection” while the French ambassador to Nepal, Jean-Charles Demarquis, himself visited the prison last month after complaints by Sobhraj that he was being hindered from asking for a review of the June 2010 verdict.
The application for a review makes several startling disclosures. Sobhraj says when police arrested him in 2003, they first charged him with having come to Nepal on 18 September 1975. However, when his lawyers rubbished that, pointing out that if he had murdered Bronzich in December 1975, he would have needed to apply for a visa extension, and given Nepal’s draconian immigration laws at that time, would have left a long trail of documentary evidence, the prosecutors abruptly changed the date to 18 December 1975.
Police documents charging him with the murder had said he was recognised by a police superintendent as the man who had come to Kathmandu from his photo published in the Navbharat Times daily in India in 1976 when he was caught by the Delhi Police. However, the Indian daily did not carry his photo, but that of another man.
Police also claimed that the body of the victim was identified by an Australian tourist, Kristy McMillan, who linked the dead woman to Charles Sobhraj. However, Sobhraj’s review application points out that in the original FIR, police said the body was identified by a man called Christian Bayakar. The yesteryear’s master forgerer is claiming that all documents produced by Nepal police are fakes, including the “confession” they claim he made after his arrest in New Delhi.
“Indian courts have a different system,” the review petition says. “Any confession must be made before a magistrate who has to sign each page and affix the seal of the court. Also, each page has to be signed by the person making the confession.” However, the “confession” produced by Nepal police is simply a bunch of typewritten pages without any signature or seal, which, he says, could have been fabricated “even by a child of five”.

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