‘Bikini Killer’ Who Preyed on Tourists in Thailand Has Heart Surgery

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Confessed French serial killer Charles Sobhraj, who killed tourists in Thailand in the 1970s and is serving a life sentence in Nepal, had successful heart surgery Monday, doctors said.

Doctors at Shahid Ganga Lal Hospital in Kathmandu said Sobhraj, 73, was recovering in the cardiac care unit.

Sobhraj has been in a Nepal jail since 2004, when a court sentenced him to life in prison in the 1975 killing of a Western backpacker.

The Frenchman in the past has admitted killing several Western tourists, and is believed to have murdered at least 20 people in Afghanistan, India, Thailand, Turkey, Nepal, Iran and Hong Kong during the 1970s.

According to a National Geographic documentary on Sobhraj, his first victim was a young American woman from Seattle, Washington named Teresa Knowlton, who was found dead in the Gulf of Thailand wearing a bikini. He also killed a young Sephardic Jew named Vitali Hakim, whose body was found burned near a Pattaya resort where Sobhraj and his entourage were staying.

He was convicted of murder for the first time after he came to Nepal as tourist in 2003 and police were tipped by a journalist. He was arrested and found guilty by a court the following year.

Sobhraj was held for two decades in New Delhi’s maximum-security Tihar prison on suspicion of theft, but was deported without charge to France in 1997. He resurfaced in September 2003 in Kathmandu.

Story: Associated Press, Khaosod English