Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life, again

2011-12-16 08:01

Paris - Carlos the Jackal, the flamboyant Venezuelan who symbolised Cold War terrorism, was sentenced to life in prison - again - in a Paris trial that ended late on Thursday with him rallying for revolution and weeping for Muammar Gaddafi.

Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, hasn't seen freedom since French agents spirited him out of Sudan in a sack in 1994.

He's already serving a life sentence in a French prison for a triple murder in 1975, the worst punishment meted out in a country that does not have the death penalty.

Once one of world's most-wanted men, the former gun-for-hire and self-proclaimed revolutionary was escorted out of his cell and back to court last month to face charges that he instigated four bombings in France in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 people and injured more than 140 others.

Just before midnight on Thursday, the court found Ramirez guilty in all four attacks, and sentenced him to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 18 years.

Combative and defiant

Combative and defiant throughout the six-week trial, the 62-year-old Ramirez denied any role in the attacks.

His lawyer and romantic partner, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, told The Associated Press that he will appeal. She said Ramirez was the victim of a politicised process and criticised investigators for using archives of former communist bloc countries to help in the prosecution.

Lawyers for the victims welcomed the long-awaited verdict, nearly three decades after the bloody bombings.

Ramirez sowed fear across Western European and Middle Eastern capitals during the Cold War, with believed ties to hijackings and killings for far-left and Palestinian terror groups.

Ramirez, relishing the rare public attention at the Paris trial, used the defendants' stand as a pulpit and spoke for five hours on Thursday in his final testimony.

I am a living archive

"I am a living archive. Most of the people of my level are dead," he said, reading from a spiral notebook in a speech that at times rambled far from the cases at hand. Three hours into it, he said, "Excuse me, I am taking my time, it's a small recapitulation."

In an emotional finale, he read a text in memory of longtime Libyan leader Gaddafi, a sort of ideological brother who funded anti-Western attacks in his own heyday. Gaddafi was killed in October after rebels backed by Nato airstrikes pushed him from power.

"This man did more than all the revolutionaries," Carlos said, sobs choking his voice as he ended the monologue with, "Long live the revolution!" A crowd of young men in the gallery cheered in support.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he sought to ensure that Ramirez's rights were respected during his trial in France.

Chavez has previously praised Ramirez as a "revolutionary fighter" and has said he doesn't view him as a terrorist. There was no immediate response to the verdict by the Venezuelan government on Thursday.

  • Hugh - 2011-12-16 08:36

    Amazing how people like president chavez and others call the Jackal and other terrorists hero's but call one a terrorists imprison or hang people who do exactly the same against them. Just shows one man's freedom fighter is anothers terrorist.

      Graziella - 2011-12-16 12:55

      The term is highly loaded against those stateless and oppressed. States massacre innocent civilians all the time and yet states are never called terrorists. It would be great if people could be more aware of this, that the term 'Terrorism', devoid of any meaningful definition is a political tool only. The reality is that one cannot describe Mandela (or Hamas for that matter) as a 'Terrorist' any more than one can meaningfully describe the French resistance as 'Terrorist'. There is far too little serious discussion on what distinguishes 'terrorist' from 'freedom fighter' - and even of whether such a distinction exists. The vast majority seem to fall back on the lazy, subjective and useless definition that if you agree with the aims of someone who plants a bomb then he's a freedom fighter, and if you disagree then he's a terrorist. Without considering enfranchisement and representation, it's impossible to construct a fully portable definition that can be used in all cases.

  • Warmonger - 2011-12-16 08:52

    My question is what are 'Ze Frgench' trying to achieve? He was already sentenced to life in prison, then yank him out en again try him for other crimes? Do they not have any other cases to try? Anyway, the french ABDUCTED him (in a sack), but that does not form part of any investigation against 'Ze Frgench'... And like Hugh says, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter....

  • Mark - 2011-12-16 09:08

    Bombers and Hijackers are low life immoral terrorists and can never ever be considered freedom fighters. If you wish to fight for freedom don't attack innocent civilians.

      kirk.bygate - 2011-12-16 09:18

      Then why were the ANC called feedom fighters by the rest of the world in the '80's. Remember all the bombings?

      Heibrin - 2011-12-16 09:36

      @Kirk: for most of the '80s the ANC was considered a terrorist organization, it's only in the late '80s that their status changed to 'freedom fighters'.

      Ryan - 2011-12-16 09:48

      dunno, i think many still consider them terrorists ;)

  • toibry - 2011-12-16 20:49

    His words will bring everyone to awed attention.

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