On the line from Kathmandu, Charles Sobhraj: Have to undergo heart surgery, don’t know if I will survive

Charles Sobhraj. Serving life term, wanted surgery done in Paris

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For once, Charles Sobhraj’s plans have gone for a toss. Known to the world as the Bikini Killer and serving a life term in Kathmandu since his arrest from a casino in 2003, Sobhraj has had a cardiac condition for a while, and he was hoping to make this a ground for his early release from jail for surgery in Paris — he is a French national. A few days ago, he collapsed in jail and is now scheduled to undergo a valve replacement, an open heart surgery, at the Gangalal Heart Centre in Kathmandu this Saturday.

The ailing 73-year-old Sobhraj, whose frailty belies his earlier image of a flamboyant killer who went after Western tourists, spoke to The Indian Express from hospital and said he had taken permission to make the phone call. “I don’t know if I will survive this. I have been threatened with death in the courtroom. Besides, the risk factor of an open heart surgery in Nepal is higher than France. In Nepal, it is between 3-5 per cent while in France it is only 1 per cent. But the cardiologists here have decided I should have the replacement as quickly as possible since there is significant damage in one valve and mild damage to the other. Of course, I am nervous about all this.”

A senior doctor at the Gangalal Heart Centre, who has been treating him for the last five years, told The Indian Express that Sobhraj’s condition could not be described as critical but he was indeed “very sick”. “He needs an urgent valve replacement and the surgery, as of now, is scheduled for Saturday, June 10. I have been regularly seeing him in prison and we decided not to wait any longer for the procedure. Provided his condition remains stable after admission, we will go ahead with the valve replacement,” the doctor said.

Describing his condition in detail, Sobhraj said that through friends, his medical file was shown to cardiologists in France and in the UK, and the prognosis was the same. “But I have been expecting release from Kathmandu Jail since 2016-end and was under the impression that the authorities here did not want to risk anything happening to me in Nepal.” “During a recent hearing in the Supreme Court, a local who has been filing cases against me threatened me again and said he wanted me see me die in Nepal. So I have written to the French Embassy and I am told they have got an assurance from the Nepal government that full security will be provided to me in hospital,” he said.

Always one for trying to improve his living conditions during long spells of incarceration — first in Delhi’s Tihar Jail and now in Kathmandu Jail — Sobhraj claims he has virtually not been given any food while in the jail hospital and has not been allowed to cook as he does in his jail cell. Earlier, he had approached the Nepal Supreme Court for better dietary allowance. “I am feeling weak and am always breathless. I have come to hospital on a wheelchair. If I survive the surgery, I will again appeal for an early release and have made many plans for what I will do once I am back in Paris.”

While he does not reveal much at this stage, it is learnt that a book release on the life and crimes of Charles Sobhraj is on the cards. He recently signed up with a leading British TV producer to fly out with him from Kathmandu to Paris and spend weeks filming him.

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