KATHMANDU: A French serial killer nicknamed the "bikini killer" for a string of murders throughout Asia in the 1970s was recovering after having open heart surgery in Nepal on Monday, his wife and a doctor said.
Charles Sobhraj, 73, who is currently serving a life sentence for two murders in Kathmandu in 1975, underwent a five-hour surgery to repair the valves in his heart.
"The good news is that the operation was a success," Sobhraj's wife Nihita Biswas told AFP.
"It was a four-hour surgery but they had to extend it for another hour because they found that the other valve was also damaged. Right now they say that he's stable."
Raamesh Koirala -- one of three surgeons involved in the complicated procedure -- said Sobhraj would remain sedated for 24 hours.
"We cannot say he is out of danger for 24 hours and maybe longer. But the operation was normal," said the surgeon, who is a distant relative of Biswas.
The ageing conman -- who has been implicated in more than 20 killings -- is under tight security in hospital because of threats made against his life, his wife said.
"We did not want the surgery to happen in Nepal because we do not trust Nepal. That is why we got a doctor who is related to the family to do the surgery," she said of Koirala.
Sobhraj is expected to remain in intensive care for at least four days.
The Frenchman earned worldwide notoriety for a series of poisonings and robberies of backpackers across Asia in the 60s and 70s.
Two of his victims were found wearing only bikinis, earning him the sobriquet the "bikini killer".
Sobhraj -- a French citizen of Vietnamese and Indian parentage -- was also known as "The Serpent" for his repeated identity thefts and escapes from justice.
He spent 21 years in jail in India where he was jailed for culpable homicide for poisoning a French tourist and killing an Israeli man. He was released in 1997.
The law caught up with him again in Nepal in 2004 when he was jailed for the killing of US tourist Connie Joe Bronzich in 1975.
In 2014, he was handed a second life sentence for the killing of Canadian backpacker Laurent Carriere, whose passport he had used to escape Nepal after killing the pair.
While in jail in Kathmandu, Sobhraj married Biswas, who is 44 years his junior and the daughter of his lawyer.
Biswas and Sobhraj's legal team are currently pushing for septuagenarian to be released from jail so he can return to France.
"He and I have been planning a lot of things for a long of time. I'm not focusing on anything apart from his release. The important thing is to send him back home," Biswas said, adding that she hoped to go to France with Sobhraj.