Serial killer The Serpent, Charles Sobhraj, freed from Nepal jail

French serial killer Charles Sobhraj (C) is guided by Nepalese policemen towards a waiting vehicle after a court hearing in Kathmandu on May 31, 2011Getty Images

A French serial killer linked to a string of tourist murders in South East Asia in the 1970s has been freed from a Nepalese prison.

Charles Sobhraj, known as The Serpent, was released after a court ruled in favour of his age and good behaviour.

The 78-year-old, ordered to return to France, spent 19 years in jail.

Sobhraj, whose story was covered in the BBC drama The Serpent, had preyed on mostly young Western backpackers on the hippie trail in India and Thailand.

The notorious killer had been concurrently serving two sentences, each 20 years, in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu for the 1975 murder of an American woman, Connie Jo Bronzich, and her Canadian backpacker friend, Laurent Carriere.

He had been convicted in two separate trials – most recently in 2014, when he was sentenced to a high security prison for murdering Carriere.

But Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered Sobhraj’s release on Wednesday after his legal team successfully filed a petition claiming he should be given a concession on his prison term due to health reasons.

A provision in Nepalese law also allows inmates who have shown good character and completed 75% of their jail term to be released.

Sobhraj had previously spent 20 years in prison in India.

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