PARIS — Jailed Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez
Sanchez, nicknamed “Carlos the Jackal,” went on trial Monday in France
accused of orchestrating a deadly bombing campaign in the early 1980s.
who is already serving a life sentence for the murder of two French
police officers and a Lebanese informant in 1975, is charged over four
bombings in 1982 and 1983, which killed 11 people and injured more than
The infamous 62-year-old prisoner appeared
defiant as the trial got under way, telling the special criminal court
in Paris he was a “revolutionary by profession” and saluting a group of
supporters in the gallery with a clenched fist.
panel of seven judges is hearing the case against Ramirez and three
absent co-defendants, Germany’s Johannes Weinrich and Christa Frohlich
and Ali Kamal al-Issawi, a Palestinian. Weinrich is serving a life
sentence in Germany. Frohlich is also believed to be living in Germany.
The whereabouts of al-Issawi are unknown.
first attack in March 1982, a bomb exploded on a train running between
Paris and the southwestern city of Toulouse, killing five people.
A month later, a car bomb exploded outside the Paris office of an Arabic-language newspaper, killing one person.
other two attacks date to December 1983. In the first, a bomb exploded
in the main train station of the city of Marseille, killing two people.
Later the same day, three people were killed in a blast on a high-speed
train traveling between Marseille and Paris.
Ramirez, 62, denies any involvement.
prosecution believes that the bombing campaign was designed to obtain
the freedom of Ramirez’s then German girlfriend Magdalena Kopp and a
Swiss associate, who had been arrested in Paris on charges of weapons
possession a month before the attacks began.
to the prosecution, after the pair’s arrest, the French interior
ministry received a letter bearing Ramirez’s fingerprints, threatening
“war” unless they were released within 30 days.
Ramirez’s defense team, which includes his lawyer wife Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, challenge the existence of such a letter.
trial reopens a chapter in international terrorism, in which Ramirez
shot to fame as the suspected mastermind of a series of spectacular
attacks, including a mass hostage-taking of ministers at the
Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna in 1975, in
which three people were killed.
He was finally
captured by French secret service agents in Sudan in 1994 and bundled
off to France where he was tried and convicted of murder in 1997.
in Caracas in 1949 to a wealthy Marxist lawyer, Ramirez studied in
Moscow and then moved to Lebanon where he fell in with the the Popular
Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In the mid-1970s he converted to
In Europe he forged links with the German left-wing terrorist group, the Baader-Meinhof Group.
was given the nickname The Jackal after a copy of Frederick Forsyth’s
“The Day of the Jackal” was found among his possessions.
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