Sobhraj, a French citizen who spent 20 years in a maximum-security prison in India, had been hunted by Nepalese police since a Kathmandu newspaper ealier this week spotted him and splashed his picture, with his trademark beret, on its front page.
Shanti Ram Khatiwada, the district court attorney for Kathmandu, told reporters that Sobhraj would be presented before a judge on Monday when formal charges would be laid.
“We are questioning him in connection with the murder of two tourists,” a police officer told Reuters without giving details.
Sobhraj, nicknamed both “The Bikini Killer” and “The Snake” for his cunning escapes from the law, is wanted in Nepal for the 1975 murders of Canadian Laddie DuParr and an American woman Annabella Tremont, both of whom he befriended in Kathmandu.
Police arrested Sobhraj at 22:15 GMT on Thursday in the Yak and Yeti luxury hotel’s casino, a police inspector involved in the arrest said.
DuParr's body was found incinerated while Tremont died from multiple stab wounds. Sobhraj stands accused of using Tremont's passport to escape to Thailand.
"Police arrested Sobhraj at 2215 GMT on Thursday in the Yak and Yeti luxury hotel’s casino"
Unidentified Nepalese police source
The progeny of an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj was released from an Indian jail in 1997 after serving 20 years for drugging, robbing and killing tourists. Sobhraj is 64 years old.
After his release, he was deported to France after a 47-day standoff during which French authorities checked his nationality and Indian immigration officials threatened to dump him at the French embassy.
English-language daily, The Himalayan Times, on Wednesday printed photographs of Sobhraj in the city and said he was planning to export pashmina shawls and set up a school for destitute children.
He is known, from reports by biographers, to be a charmer and a master jewel thief. Sobhraj’s criminal exploits covered countries from France to India, Afghanistan to Thailand.
In fact, in 1996, he made an escape from a prison in New Delhi after it looked likely he would be extradited to Thailand to face charges of murdering six girls, all wearing bikinis, on a beach at Pattaya.
He was rearrested in the Indian province of Goa.
He was known to have been living quietly in France since his release from prison in India.