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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 August, 2004, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
'Serial killer' guilty in Nepal
Sobhraj in custody
Sobhraj allegedly confessed his crimes to an Australian biographer
An alleged serial killer, Charles Sobhraj, has been found guilty of murdering a female US tourist by a court in Nepal.

The case related to the deaths of two backpackers in 1975. Sobhraj, a French national, was sentenced to life in prison. He says he will appeal.

Sobhraj has been linked to up to 20 murders in a number of countries across Asia in the 1970s.

This is the first time he has been convicted of murder.

He spent 20 years in jail in India for drugging and robbing tourists.

'Bikini killer'

After the verdict was announced, Sobhraj told journalists in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, that he would appeal.

While he was found guilty of killing an American tourist, no verdict was given in the case of the killing of the Canadian tourist.

The charred bodies of the two women were found outside Kathmandu nearly 30 years ago.

Charles Sobhraj

"I have been declared guilty without proof and without witnesses," Sobhraj said, the AFP news agency reports.

He was detained in Nepal last September on immigration charges after being arrested in a Kathmandu casino.

During the 1970s, when countries of south Asia and the Asia Pacific region were favoured destinations for hippies and other budget travellers, Sobhraj was a suspect in 20 murder cases.

But he was never convicted in any of them.

His knack for disguise and deception earned him the nickname, "The Serpent".

And he also became known as the 'bikini killer' after being connected to the deaths of western women at the Pattaya beach resort in Thailand.

His biographer, Australian writer Richard Neville, said Sobhraj had admitted a number of murders to him. Sobhraj later denied that.

Sobhraj was born to Indian and Vietnamese parents and has French citizenship through his Vietnamese background.

After completing his prison term in India in 1997, he was deported to France.

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