Having first premiered on BBC One, Netflix’s ‘The Serpent’ is an eight-part true-crime drama series that profiles the life and actions of French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who targeted tourists throughout the Hippie Trail between 1975 and 1976. Posing as a gem dealer, he and his girlfriend, Marie-Andrée Leclerc, along with Charles’ second in command, Ajay Chowdhury, traversed Southeast Asia during this time, committing a spree of brutal crimes. However, thanks to the hard work of Herman and Angela Knippenberg, Charles was eventually apprehended. So now, let’s find out all that there is to know about Angela, shall we?
Who is Angela Knippenberg?
Born in 1948 in Hamelin, Lower Saxony, Germany, Angela Knippenberg, now Kane, was based in Bangkok, Thailand, in the mid-1970s with her then-husband, Herman Knippenberg, a junior-level Dutch diplomat at the time. As a German diplomat herself, with degrees from Bryn Mawr College and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, along with an honorary doctorate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California, Angela speaks six languages and did play a crucial role in translating all of Marie-Andrée Leclerc’s diary entries for evidence. In fact, as seen on ‘The Serpent,’ she was the one who cataloged everything.
Slowly, yet surely, Angela and Herman Knippenberg built a strong case against Charles Sobhraj, the findings of which they eventually handed over to Interpol. In the latter episodes of the series, though, because of Herman’s inability to let the matter go, we see Angela leave him behind to visit her parents in Germany, portraying it as if she never returned. But that’s not entirely accurate. After all, in the end, we’re told that the couple left Thailand in 1977, separating only in 1989, more than a decade after the fact. And even though they got divorced, they still seem to be on amicable terms. They both have since remarried.
Where is Angela Knippenberg Now?
Upon leaving Thailand in 1977, Angela Knippenberg joined the United Nations Secretariat, with her experiences of working at World Bank in Washington, D.C., and in the private sector in Europe, backing her up. Eventually, she held a managerial position in the Department of Public Information from 1995 to 1999. From there, she rose through the ranks to become the UN’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and Under-Secretary-General for Management before retiring in 2015. At the age of 72, Angela Kane currently resides in Austria, where she’s created a comfortable life for herself.
Netflix streaming The Serpent on 2 April; hunting killer Sobhraj with ex Herman K. Comments rec’d about my portrayal: “I’m disgruntled because I know you’d never take a back seat and can’t imagine you being a complacent wife, not being fully immersed in the case”. Agree? Or not? pic.twitter.com/7kU8Ot5KFx
— Angela Kane (@kaneview) March 23, 2021
Angela already has an impressive track record, and she is known for her work in the fields of political relations, negotiations, peace operations, and disarmament. She joined the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non‑Proliferation in October 2015 and serves as the Vice President of the International Institute for Peace in Vienna. Apart from this, she is a Visiting Professor at SciencesPo’s Paris School of International Affairs and Tsinghua University in Beijing. She is also a member of various organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the European Leadership Network.
Speaking to The Mirror recently, Angela revealed that despite being consulted by producers, she believed her part had been underplayed in ‘The Serpent.’ “Herman and I were very much partners in all of this,” she said. “A husband and wife detective team is a good story – and that is the real story – but that’s not the way they wrote it… I was a lot more assertive than [Ellie Bamber] portrays me… I was never the dutiful diplomat’s wife. I had my own experiences, and I could be difficult, and that part of me was not properly captured. Herman liked a sounding board, and as the case went on, he relied on me.” The director of the show has since said he was “saddened” to hear Angela feels this way.
Read More: How Was Charles Sobhraj Caught?