French ‘Bikini Killer’ awaits appeal verdict in Nepal

KATHMANDU, July 13, 2010 (AFP) – Nepal’s Supreme Court is set to rule Wednesday on an appeal by a Frenchman linked to a series of grisly backpacker killings across Asia in the 1970s who is contesting his murder conviction. Charles Sobhraj, a balding 65-year-old dubbed the “Bikini Killer,” could walk free if the court overturns his 20-year sentence for the killing of an American backpacker in 1975.

Sobhraj was convicted six years ago of killing Connie Joe Bronzich, a tourist who was stabbed repeatedly before being burnt almost beyond recognition and then dumped on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital.

“The Supreme Court has scheduled the final verdict on the case of Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj for tomorrow,” said court spokesman Sri Kanta Poudel.

A Kathmandu district court originally sentenced the talented linguist, who police describe as a charming con man, to life imprisonment in 2004. This judgment was later upheld by another district court a year later.

The 65-year-old has maintained his innocence throughout, saying he had never visited Nepal before he was arrested at a Kathmandu casino in 2003, though a retired policeman has since testified that he saw Sobhraj in Nepal in 1975.

Handwri