Charles Sobhraj, Viper on the Trail of a Hippie in South Asia

Charles Sobhrajknown internationally as El Serpiente, one of the most legendary serial killers in the history of crime, returns to France, under the control of the police, hoping to escape again successive sentences of decades in prison – or life – before “health reasons” allowed his release in Nepal.

Established as an exceptional master of the universal ‘art’ of murder, El Serpiente holds a privileged place in the history of great criminal acts: murder ‘gastronomy’, alchemy with corrupt drugs, trafficking in jewels and bloody documents, rogue seduction, prison corruption, cot planning Lean round…a real gem.

Sobhraj was born in Saigon in 1944., in the former French Indochina, present-day Ho Chi Minh City, the most populous city in Vietnam, with a Vietnamese mother and an Indian father. The couple divorced when the child was three years old. The mother fled to Marseille with an officer in the French colonial army. The boy remained in Saigon with his father, who is allowed to wander, and began to steal in the street, until his mother decided to take him to settle in France (Marseille and Paris).

juvenile delinquents

Administratively, in French, it became the future serpent Occupational delinquents between the ages of twelve and fifteen. As a teenager, after three years in prison, he married Chantal Compagnon, with whom he began his criminal life with very high returns in Greece, Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, India, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Nepal, Thailand, Kathmandu and hippie. Trail of Bak Bak Bak in South Asia …

Julie Clarke, Australian journalist, author, with Richard Neville, of the first great book on Charles Sobrague, recalls the beginning of the criminal legend of the serpent thus: «In the sixties and seventies many young Europeans wished to break away from all social norms, took the road, the path of hippies. They were representatives of a subculture that was looking for other forms of spirituality in Afghanistan, India and Kathmandu… A cultured man who spoke several languages, Subraj flirted with European girls and boys, talking to them about Nietzsche, Buddhism and Hinduism… . From there, he drugged and robbed them and ended up killing them with the cruelty of a corrupt killer.”

Between 1970 and 1976, El Serpiente investigated alone or with one or two accomplices, boys and girls seduced by his criminal ‘great art’, Twenty thirty murdersand several dozen robberies and thefts.

Deadly traps

In Bombay and New Delhi, The Serpent successfully practices the use of evil drugs. Flirting with girls and boys, bisexuals, gays and lesbians in taverns and brothels on the way… The “philosophy” that charmed hippies and backpackers ended in “medical advice”: Sobhraj denounced local doctors and supplied them with pills to “avoid diseases”. His victims fell into a trap. And they disappeared with corruption.

On Pattaya Beach 165 kilometers from Bangkok, accompanied by another hitman, lover and new partner, Marie-Andre LeclercSerpent takes a quantum leap in his sinister criminal career: the Bikini Murders. Decades later, Thai police officer Sompul Suthimal would recall the story with great accuracy: “Young European tourists appeared at sea, beheaded, raped, victims of abuse and torture, after being drugged… We ended up discovering the gruesome act. About the snake, his lover and his accomplices: They not only stole jewelry and money, but kept passports, which they used or resold on the black market.

french girl Nadine Geers He was 22 at the time (1975), and lived in the same building in a shady neighborhood of Bangkok as Sobraj, whom he passed down the stairs on numerous occasions. He remembers him with checkered precision: “He was a neat, well-educated young man. My husband was the first to notice that many of the friends who lived in or frequented his house had contracted the disease before they disappeared. One day I jokingly said to him: “You bring bad luck to your friends!” Another compatriot ends up finding out that Sobhraj drugged, poisoned, and ended up killing his friends and guests, passing tourists, backpackers, hippies, and victims of a vicious killer.

Nadine Geers, Dutch diplomat, Hermann KnippenbergThey were the first to start putting together a documentary report that they ended up submitting to the Thai police. with relative success. The round trips to El Serpiente, between Bangkok and Kathmandu, Hong Kong, Varanasi and New Delhi, among other Asian cities, were carried out with forged documents. The effects of blood, drugs, and bad traffic had endless directions. After another grim story, at the Vikram Hotel in New Delhi, where twenty French students were drugged, Subraj was arrested, tried and sentenced to many years in prison.


In the jail of Tihar, the capital of India, the snake has confirmed its remarkable art of dealing with corruption in prisons. He managed to seduce and drug the jailers and escape. But he was arrested weeks later on Guia Beach. After twenty years in prisonwas expelled to France, in 1997, and settled in the Chinatown of Paris, where it cost a lot of money to give interviews, hoping to publish his memoirs.

He made a childish mistake when he returned to Nepal in 2003 as an ‘adviser’. A journalist recognized him on the streets of Kathmandu, where he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. Nineteen years later, he was released again. “For health reasons”. At Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, the judicial police were waiting for him last week. Sobhraj married a young Nepalese woman who considered him “innocent of all the lies they tell about him”. French justice is wondering what to do with El Serpiente, who is already 78 years old. Those who knew him and are still alive remember him with dread.

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