(NewsNation) — Charles Sobhraj, also known as “The Serpent,” became a free man Dec. 24.
He’s been accused of killing nearly two dozen tourists around Asia in the 1970s. A recent photo of a woman sitting next to Sobhraj on an airplane headed to France, where he’ll begin his new life, has since gone viral.
Journalist Jairaj Singh shared the photo to Twitter with the caption “That awkward moment when you realise you’re sitting next to a serial killer who claimed at least 30 lives.” As of Wednesday night, the tweet had been viewed more than 658,000 times.
Sobhraj reportedly befriended his victims, gave advice on where to dine, sometimes let them stay at the apartment in Bangkok he shared with his girlfriend, and then killed them.
He killed them by first drugging their drinks, and then stabbing or choking them to death. He would then steal their identities and continue to travel using their passports and their money.
Sobhraj was first caught in 1976 after drugging 60 French engineering students in Delhi. He was also charged with the murders of an Israeli citizen and a French tourist but managed to avoid conviction for those killings and was instead sentenced for the attempted robbery of the students he drugged.
Sobhraj was released in 1997 and retired to a life in the suburbs of Paris. But in 2003, Nepalese police arrested, charged and then sentenced Sobhraj to life in prison for the 1975 murders of two backpackers.
After serving 19 years of his life term, a term of only 20 years, he was released from prison Christmas Eve.