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Charles Sobhraj is portrayed by Tahar Rahim in the new BBC miniseries, The Serpent. The series tells the real-life story of the killer who preyed on tourists from the West during the 1970s. Fans are keen to find out more about his accomplices, and Express.co.uk has all you need to know.
Who were Charles Sobhraj’s accomplices?
Viewers have been keen to find out more about Sobhraj following the release of The Serpent on BBC One.
The series recalls how Sobhraj, who was nicknamed The Bikini Killer, deceived victims and committed as least 12 murders.
He was jailed in India between 1976 and 1997, and was later arrested again in Nepal in 2003, where he was given a life sentence.
Sobhraj, who was thought to have an anti-social personality disorder, started off committing petty crimes which escalated to robberies and burglaries.
In the early 70s he had a number of accomplices for the robberies, including his wife Chantal Compagnon, a young Parisian woman.
She helped him escape following a failed armed robbery attempt at a jewellery store at Hotel Ashoka in 1973.
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He spent the next couple of years on the run, and he was joined by his half-brother André in Istanbul.
They became criminal partners and committed crimes in Turkey and Greece, but André was caught by the Greek authorities.
An Indian man named Ajay Chowdhury was another criminal who went on to become Sobhraj’s second-in-command. They committed the first recorded murders in 1975.
Another of his known followers was Marie-Andrée Leclerc, who had been a tourist keen for adventure.
Sobhraj would travel with Chowdhury and Leclerc to Singapore, India and Bangkok across the mid to late 70s.
By 1976, Sobhraj had created a criminal ‘family’ – including Barbara Smith and Mary Ellen Eather.
They were Western women who had been lost in Bombay, and Sobhraj had managed to recruit them for a series of drug overdoses on victims.
While they were being interrogated, Smith and Eather caved in and confessed to the crimes.
Smith and Eather attempted to take their own lives while in prison ahead of their trial.
Leclerc had also been found guilty of drugging French students, but she was put on parole and returned to Canada. She remained loyal to Sobhraj until her death in 1984.
Most of his victims had threatened to expose Sobhraj, which is what led to their deaths.
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He became known as The Bikini Killer as many of his victims were found in certain attire.
Some of his victims were drowned, others burnt and strangled.
Following his first stint in prison, he retired to Paris and continued to travel.
In 2003 he had been spotted in Kathmandu and Nepalese police, who were able to relaunch a double murder case from 1975 and get him sentenced to life imprisonment.
His story has been told in books and a number of TV series, with the most recent depiction being The Serpent.
The series focuses on Sobhraj’s capture and trial. Speaking about what preparation he did ahead of the role, actor Rahim said: “I needed to understand in a way what makes a murderer… I wanted to start from there.
“I read a lot of books on the subject, plus I spoke with some experts. I did my homework.
“When you’re playing someone who’s alive and not especially famous, the key thing to do is to catch the soul.
“From there you can create everything else… but it’s the soul, that’s a hard thing to catch. Especially with Charles… it’s not easy.”
The Serpent airs on BBC One
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