10 Crazy Facts About Charles Sobhraj

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Born Hatchand Bhaonani Gurumukh Charles Sobhraj on 6th April 1944, in Saigon, Vietnam, he went on to kill at least 12 people from the mid-1970s.

12 is his known victim count but it could be much higher, and only Sobhraj knows the secrets of his kills. He became known as The Serpent due to his manipulative and cunning behaviour.

He was also referred to as The Bikini Killer, as some of his victims were found wearing only bikinis, and The Splitting Killer, assumed to be because he split his time between multiple countries.

Here are ten crazy facts about Charles Sobhraj!

10 Crazy Facts About Charles Sobhraj, AKA: The Serpent

1. Charles Sobhraj claimed he worked for the CIA

Charles Sobhraj was nothing if not a manipulator, but he claimed he worked for the CIA and that they abandoned him when he was arrested in Nepal in 2003.

It’s entirely possible he was speaking the truth and entirely possible he wasn’t. It’s not as if the CIA would admit to having him on their books. But it would explain why he country-hopped, claiming victims along the way.

2. He was an arms dealer for the Taliban

In 1973 he was arrested and held on an armed robbery charge in Delhi, but with the help of his new wife, he managed to escape. Despite a recapture, he was bailed out and then eloped to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Sobhraj spent a lot of time in Afghanistan, so it’s more than likely that with his charming ways, he may have met with the Taliban. He was also known to have carried weapons across borders.

3. Tried to open an antiques shop in London

Sobhraj attempted to open an antiques shop in London as a front for selling arms for the French mafia. It’s not clear why he failed at opening the shop, but his lack of visa may have stopped him.

He viewed the UK as a location to make money and where it would be easy for him to launder money and sell goods to underworld characters. Which leads to the next crazy fact about Charles Sobhraj.

4. Met Boris Johnson

While in London, he supposedly met with the then editor of The Spectator and future British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson has neither admitted or denied the claim but if they did meet, it’s unlikely Johnson would remember and so we only have Sobhraj’s story to go on.

5. His wife was in Big Brother

Nihita Biswas Sobhraj married Sobhraj while he was in prison, and went on to appear on India’s Bigg Boss, a Big Brother-style show that aired in 2011.  

Despite being a rising star in India at the time, she attempted to use the time on the show to clear Sobhraj’s name, as she believed the accusations of being a serial killer were false – they weren’t.

6. A French Army Lieutenant adopted him

Sobhraj was born to a Vietnamese mother and Indian father. His international life began early when his parents divorced shortly after his birth.

He was adopted by his mother’s new boyfriend, a French Army lieutenant, and they travelled between South-East Asia and France on many occasions. He then became a French national because of the adoption. 

7. His first victim was an American in Thailand

The first murder victim was a Seattle-based female who threatened to expose Sobhraj’s criminal activities in 1975. She was found drowned in the surf of a tidal pool in the Gulf of Thailand, wearing only her bikini.

In the same year, he killed Vitali Hakim, in Pattaya. When Hakim’s girlfriend travelled to Thailand looking for him, Sobhraj killed her, and left her on the beach in a bikini, giving him the Bikini Killer moniker.

8. Four French students caught Charles Sobhraj

His last victims were a group of four French students travelling through New Delhi, he tricked them into becoming a tour guide for them.

As they were being poisoned – for their travel documents – three of them realised what was happening and managed to overpower Sobhraj before the police arrived to arrest him.

9. He held parties in prison

Due to Sobhraj’s manipulative and cunning personality, he lived a life of luxury in an Indian prison. In 1986, he put on a lavish party, poisoned the guards, and escaped.

He planned to escape with the intention of being rearrested to avoid a Thai arrest warrant, where he may have received the death penalty.

10. Killed for Criminal Enterprise

Many serial killers kill out of pleasure, sexual reasons, or psychological ones, Charles Sobhraj killed for criminal enterprise reasons.

He killed to protect his crime from being exposed and those who stood in his way. He killed for passports and papers that allowed him to move freely between multiple countries.

Sobhraj later stated in an interview that he killed purely out of business interest and saw it as a job to give him access to the means that allowed his criminal activities to continue.

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