Monday, March 27, 2006

SC admits Sobhraj plea for retrial

Kathmandu, March 27- The Supreme Court has admitted an appeal filed by suspected international serial killer Charles Gurmukh Sobhraj. In the appeal, Sobhraj has challenged his two-year old conviction eight months ago by the Kathmandu District Court and the Patan Appellate Court’s decision that endorsed his conviction.

The Supreme Court on sunday issued a notice to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to attend the hearing of the case, scheduled for April 9.

The order was issued by a division bench of Justices Rajendra Kumar Bhandari and Gauri Dhakal.

A few months ago Sobhraj appealed against the Kathmandu District Court (KDC) verdict that convicted him on August 28, 2004, and which was upheld by the Patan Appellate Court.

An appeal filed by the government challenging the courts’ clean chit to Sobhraj on a fake passport case was also presented in the hearing along with Sobhraj’s appeal.

Based on circumstantial evidence, the lower courts convicted Sobhraj of murdering American backpacker Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975 at Manahara Khola, Sinamangal, Kathmandu. Now the Supreme Court will interpret whether or not a person can be convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

In Sunday’s hearing, former Attorney General Badri Bahadur Karki, senior advocate Basanta Ram Bhandari, advocates Ram Bandhu Sharma and Rajaram Dhakal pleaded on behalf of Sobhraj. Karki claimed that the SC should crosscheck the circumstantial evidence, based on which the lower courts convicted him.

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