Will sue those who have wronged me: Sobhraj

Extract of casual conversation with Charles Sobhraj, the 78-year-old, convicted for the murder of two North Americans.
Nepal's top court ordered on December 21 the release of Charles Sobhraj, the French serial killer portrayed in the Netflix series 'The Serpent' . (Photo | PTI)
Nepal's top court ordered on December 21 the release of Charles Sobhraj, the French serial killer portrayed in the Netflix series 'The Serpent' . (Photo | PTI)

Here is an extract of a candid and casual conversation with Charles Sobhraj who landed in Paris after serving a long jail sentence in Nepal:

Describe your first day in Paris.
In the last 48 hours, I slept only for two hours. I was so busy getting a new phone and a new sim. And then got into a conversation with my publisher over the title of my upcoming memoir which may be “I The Serpent” but I do not agree with it. So, this may change. My European publisher has made a consortium that includes a German, French, an Italian, and from the Netherlands. The rights of the book are with the consortium.

What was on your mind during the 14-hour flight from Kathmandu to Paris?
I was so glad that I got out of that place alive. Till the last moment there was a question mark on my mind. Only when I got into the plane, I felt safe. Then my mind relaxed. There were three attempts on my life while I was inside the jail in Nepal. I was poisoned thrice. They thought I would die inside. In the Nepal cases I am absolutely innocent and we are going to prove it. On 7th April 1975, I was in Greece in a jail in Athens (from January 1975 to July 1975). There are recorded documents to prove that I was indeed in Greece and not in Nepal as falsely proven with fabricated documents. So, I said to myself that I was safe as I sat in the aircraft. After the plane took off, I thought of all the things that I had to do including a case against Nepal and others including the BBC and Netflix for the portrayal of me in the series. I am not going to sit idle.

You spent the prime of your life behind bars. What are your biggest learnings while inside?

This is a bit of a philosophical question. My philosophy is, at every stage of your life, you have to learn more and more. The thirst for learning and knowledge has to increase. Even at this advanced age, it is even more important for me to learn more because I do not have enough time. I had mentioned earlier to you in our conversation that I was learning Mandarin and Korean — how to read and write both the languages. You may ask why. I admire the Chinese civilization which is very old and this admiration and respect led me to learn the language.

Also, I am also from Vietnam, and it was part of China during the colonisation and occupation of Vietnam, so I had a natural inclination to the language. As for Korea, after the war (1950-1953) the country was completely destroyed. Now it (South Korea) has become the 11th economy in the world and to hold a place as the top best highest technology countries in the world is a huge feat. I admire that kind of achievement, and I had to learn the language to communicate. I was also doing research for my future books not related to my life but on other topics and I already have two books in the pipeline.

How do you look at your past?
It is again a metaphysical question. If you look at your past like ‘that’ you will block yourself from going forward. You have to fight even though you cannot forget the past. You cannot ruminate over it nor meditate on it. For instance, I move on and I am planning to sue those I feel have wronged me. Like the state of Nepal, Netflix and BBC.

If you could turn the clock back, what would you change?
If you look back again and again, you are blocking yourself. One cannot go back there. If you do that, you will thwart all energies. At the same time, if you say it could have been different, it means you are insecure and you want to find excuses for yourself. But you cannot do that. However, if one has done anything wrong even with oneself, one has to recognise that wrong and make it right.

What are your immediate plans now that you are free?
Since the time I landed from Nepal, I barely had time to rest. I have been in discussions with my publisher and producers about my upcoming book. I wrote it when I was in Nepal and co-authored with Jean Charles who also edited the book. It is the true story of my life and written by myself for the first time. It would also cover a large part of my life in India’s Tihar Jail and whatever I had written while in Tihar would be woven into this book.

(Hoihnu Hauzel is an independent journalist and founder of www.thenestories.com and www.northeastodyssey.com)

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