New Zealand Listener


Serial killers have existed throughout history but the term itself dates back only until the mid-1970s, which happens to be when the serial killer I know was operating. Charles Sobhraj is one of those characters whose story seems too far-fetched for real life, so it’s no surprise that it has been frequently fictionalised.

The latest adaptation, The Serpent, is an eight part Netflix/BBC production, starring French actor Tahar Rahim, due to be broadcast in 2020. It follows the extraordinary spate of murders that Sobhraj committed along the so-called “hippie trail” of South and East Asia in the 1970s. And it focuses on the role of New Zealand resident Herman Knippenberg, back then a junior Dutch diplomat in Bangkok, in exposing Sobhraj as a multiple killer.

In countries such as Thailand, Pakistan and Nepal, Sobhraj murdered at least 12 people, most of them young travellers. He stole not just their money but also, frequently, their identities – often leaving the country using the passport of one of his victims.

The Serpent focuses on the role of New Zealand resident Herman Knippenberg in exposing Sobhraj as a multiple killer.

In an era of limited communications and technology, especially in the developing world where Sobhraj operated, his tactics were so effective that he not only eluded capture but sometimes his victims were not even reported dead – because there were records of them travelling after their unidentified corpses were found.

Sobhraj was handsome, charming, multilingual and a homicidal psychopath. I first met him in 1997 in Paris. He’d just been released from jail in India, where he had served a 20-year sentence for kidnapping. In fact, his sentence in India had been considerably shorter, but he had escaped from Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail – by knocking out the guards with spiked sweets – and intentionally got himself re-arrested to extend his sentence. It meant that by the time he was

Sie lesen eine Vorschau. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen.

Mehr von New Zealand Listener

New Zealand Listener5 min gelesenMedical
Put To The Test
Scientist Anne Wyllie fully realised the gravity of Covid-19 only when young, fit athletes started producing harrowing test results usually associated with old and seriously ill patients. Some of the sports stars she’d tested for the virus were asymp
New Zealand Listener3 min gelesenCrime & Violence
The Sport Of King
There’s a moment near the end of docudrama Friend of the Friendless where the actor playing celebrated criminal lawyer Greg King takes a call. “Yeah sorry, mate, I’m very busy,” he tells the caller as he steps out of the room from a discussion with h
New Zealand Listener3 min gelesenPolitics
Tell Us The Terms
New Zealanders are weathering with a great deal of patience the protracted uncertainties of a pandemic – but they shouldn’t have to endure uncertainty from political candidates. Being in uncharted territory with Covid-19 doesn’t excuse our politician