Carlos the Jackal faces trial for 4 French attacks

Already convicted in 1997 of a triple murder in Paris, real name of Venezuelan terrorist is is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez.

Paris: The man known as Carlos the Jackal, once feared as a leader of international terrorism, goes on trial Monday for four deadly attacks in France in 1982-1983.

Already convicted in 1997 of a triple murder in Paris, and serving a life sentence, the 62-year-old Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez goes before a special court on terrorism-linked charges.

A panel of anonymous magistrates will be his judges during the six-week trial.

The now-graying Ramirez, who has described himself as a "professional revolutionary," is charged with instigating the attacks that killed 11 people and injured 140 others, and with complicity in murder and complicity in destruction.

He denies any role in the attacks.

Three others, suspected accomplices, are being tried in absentia, Palestinian Kamal Al-Issawi and Germans Christa-Margot Frohlich and Johannes Weinrich, the alleged head of European operations for Ramirez and one-time member of Germany`s violent extreme-right Red Army Faction.

Security is expected to be tight as the man with a reputation as a top mastermind of terrorism during the 1970s and 1980s is escorted from his cell at La Sante prison in southern Paris to the Justice Palace in the city center.

Ramirez is the chief suspect in the 1975 seizure of OPEC oil ministers and in the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a French jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda, which ended with an Israeli commando raid.

Doubt has been cast on his alleged role in the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. But his links to hijackings, bombings and killings reflect the multiple causes Ramirez took on in mercenary style, from his years with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine to his role in extreme-left European terror groups

Shadowy alliances that thrived during the Cold War kept him out of reach of Western secret services. Refuges few scares after the fall of Communism and French operatives nabbed him in 1994 in Khartoum, Sudan, and flew him to Paris.

Prosecutors see the hand of Carlos behind two 1982 terror attacks on French soil that they claim were carried out to pressure the government to free girlfriend Magdalena Kopp — with whom he later married and had a daughter — and comrad Bruno Breguet. He is also suspected in two attacks in 1983.

Five people were killed in the March 29, 1982 bombing of a Toulouse-Paris train — four five days after a deadline for the release of Kopp and Breguet sent in a letter to the French Embassy in the Netherlands. The letter allegedly contained two fingerprints of Ramirez. One person died in the April 22, 1982, attack outside the Paris office of an Arab-language newspaper — the day Kopp and Breguet went on trial in another case. Both were convicted.

A group calling itself the Organization for the Arab Armed Struggle claimed responsibility for two New Year`s Eve attacks, Dec. 31, 1983, one on a Maraseille train station which killed two people and another on a fast train in eastern France which killed three. Again, Ramirez` fingerprints were allegedly lifted from one of two letters claiming responsibility.

Ramirez went on a hunger strike Oct. 18-27 to protest being banished to solitary confinement after he gave a telephone interview to the French radio station Europe 1. His lawyers claim that he was denied access to materials needed to prepare for the trial, including two DVDS containing 100,000 pages. It was unclear whether such claims might become a source of disruption.

Bureau Report

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