Charles Sobhraj, a serial killer known as The Serpent, has been released from a Nepali prison after 19 years.
Sobhraj is allegedly responsible for a string of murders in the 1970s and ’80s, including the killing of a Canadian.
He was dubbed the “bikini killer” in Thailand, and “the serpent,” for his evasion of police and use of disguises.
The notorious killer, whose story was covered in the TV drama “The Serpent”, had been concurrently serving two sentences, each 20 years, in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, for the 1975 murder of an American woman, Connie Jo Bronzich, and her Canadian backpacker friend, Laurent Carriere.
Suspected of killing more than 20 Western backpackers on the “hippie trail” through Asia, Sobhraj had been held in Kathmandu since 2003.
Police in Thailand say he allegedly drugged and killed six women in the 1970s, some of whom turned up dead on a beach near the resort of Pattaya.
78-year-old Sobhraj was freed after a court ruled in favour of his age and good behaviour.
A provision in Nepalese law allows inmates who have shown good character and completed 75% of their jail term to be released.
“Keeping him in the prison continuously is not in line with the prisoner’s human rights,” the verdict read, according to AFP, citing regular treatment for heart disease as another factor in his release. He had heart surgery in 2017.
A French national, he arrived at the Kathmandu airport later on Friday to board a regular flight to Doha en route to Paris after clearing immigration, said Basudev Ghimire, a Kathmandu airport immigration official.
Nepal has barred Sobhraj from entering the country for 10 years, said Pradashanie Kumari, the acting director general of the immigration department.
While in prison, Sobhraj married Nihita Biswas, a Nepali woman 44 years his junior, in 2008.
In an interview with AFP ahead of his departure on Friday, Sobhraj said he felt “great” about being given his freedom, but would be seeking legal action against the Nepalese government.