«The Serpent», the serial killer who hated hippies. He used to kill his young victims after drugging them (and now he’s back on the loose)

Of Alfio Sciacca

back free in France Charles Sobhraj, 78, the criminal accused of dozens of murders that took place in the seventies which inspired the Netflix television series

It seems he was moved by a deep hatred for hippies who he considered only the sons of privileged dads in search of strong emotions, while others think he was trivially just a psychopath. Whatever the reasons that led him to kill were held responsible for at least twenty murders, committed mainly in the seventies on the so-called hippy trailthe path that leads from the West to the East, passing through Turkey and Iran up to Thailand, in which many young people ventured in the 1970s in search of peace and freedom in customs and in the use of drugs.

Serial killer Hotchand Bhawnani Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj, this is his full name, better known as The snake, in recent days returned to freedom for health reasons. He was being held in a maximum security prison in Nepal which he was able to leave early to return to France. He was serving the latest of many sentences: 19 years for the double murder of a couple of tourists in Kathmandu in 1975. Sneer Charles Sobhraja born in Saigon in 1944 but raised in France where his ferocity and ability to evade capture turn into legend. Enough to inspire a famous television series on Netflix entitled, precisely, The snake. To give the face of the serial killer, with surprising resemblance, the actor Tahar Rahim.

Son of an Indian tailor based in Saigon (under French control in 1944) and a Vietnamese saleswoman, he grows up with his mother’s new partner, a French army lieutenant stationed in Vietnam, who adopts him allowing him to acquire French nationality . Following his adoptive father he also moved to Indochina where in 1963 he made up for his first conviction for theft. He had already returned to France for the first time in 1997. And it was in those years that his criminal myth exploded, fueled by some interviews given to newspapers. Just like the one that opens the Netflix television series where the serial killer, despite the convictions, declares his innocence. In 2003 Sobhraj returned to Asia, but had to deal with his past. He, identified, had been arrested and convicted of killing the tourists, a Canadian and an American, which took place 28 years earlier in Kathmandu.

Another nickname that was also attributed to him over time bikini killer, perhaps because of the clothing that many of his victims, mainly women, wore. Legendary is the ability to strike and then lose all trace, slipping away like a snake someone says. Like his ferocity. With astuteness he approached the victims thanks also to affable ways and a great ease in speaking different languages. He posed as a businessman, before revealing his true identity: he drugged his victims and then killed them. Very often strangling them with bare hands and burning the corpses to hide all traces.

The exact number of people he killed in his long criminal career and how long he continued to kill is not clear. What is certain that before the sentence he was serving in Nepal he had already spent twenty years of his life in an Indian prison, after being accused of poisoning some French tourists on board a bus. During the long period of detention he too became the protagonist of a mysterious and brief escape from prison. It is said that he managed to escape after administering sleeping pills to the prison guards. Chronicle and legend that are inextricably intertwined in the life of Charles Sobhraja, as in television fiction.

December 24, 2022 (change December 24, 2022 | 1:55 pm)

«The Serpent», the serial killer who hated hippies. He used to kill his young victims after drugging them (and now he’s back on the loose)