The diplomat Herman Knippenberg (76) grew up in Twente played a crucial role in the detection of serial killer Charles Sobrahj in the 1970s. His story has been filmed and the series will soon be on display in the Netherlands at Netflix.
The story begins in 1975 when Knippenberg works at the Dutch Embassy in Bangkok. He receives a letter from a man from Amsterdam, who writes that he hasnt heard from his sister-in-law and her boyfriend in six weeks. They made a trip through Thailand.
Knippenberg establishes the link between the Amsterdam couple and two charred corpses that were found on the road shortly before. On the basis of a clue in the letter about the Amsterdam couple, he finds Sobrahj on track. “It gave me a shock. The way they were torn up, burned alive. Of course, I couldnt leave it at that,” he says in the CCITEIT radio programme “With the Eye on Tomorrow”.
The series, a coproduction with the BBC, has been well received in Great Britain:
Sobrahj, who by his cunning character is known among others as The Slang, poisoned, drugged and strangled several tourists. He stayed out of the hands of the police for years using fake passports and disguises.
After the necessary research work of the Knippenberg team, it finally succeeded in arresting Sobrahj. Together with his Canadian girlfriend, he was sentenced to many years in prison in India. Sobrahj will be released in 1997, but will be arrested again in Nepal in 2003. Thats where the now 76-year-old killer is still trapped.
Collaboration of Knippenberg
Initially, the series would be recorded from the point of view of the serial killer. Eventually it was decided to tell the story partly from the perspective of the Twente diplomat, writes RTV Oost.
The 76-year-old Knippenberg, who has been living in New Zealand for over twenty years, was also involved in the shooting. For example, he was interviewed by the makers for several hours and visited the set in Thailand.
The role of Herman Knippenberg is played by British actor Billy Howle.