Wakar Akhtar, 21, drove from Bradford to Dover after giving evidence at his Bradford Crown Court trial, and caught a ferry to Calais.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Snow, of West Yorkshire Police, revealed that Akhtar had been arrested in Brescia, northern Italy, following liaison with Interpol and foreign authorities, and would be appearing at an extradition court in Rome later today.
Akhtar, of Hudson Avenue, Canterbury, Bradford, was convicted in his absence, with three co-accused, of conspiracy to rape. They were each jailed for 17 years for the "despicable and inhuman" plot to abduct a schoolteacher and rape her in darkness in Horton Park, Bradford.
The vulnerable young woman, who lost consciousness after drinking with friends in Leeds and taken to Bradford in a minicab, came round to find a stranger having sex with her on a park bench.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of Akhtar after he absconded.