Carlos the Jackal seeks shorter jail term at French trial

·2 min read
The 71-year-old Venezuelan militant, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has been behind bars in France sinc 1994 (AFP/STAFF, JACK GUEZ, Bertrand GUAY)

Carlos the Jackal, who was behind some of the biggest terror attacks of the 1970s and 1980s, will attempt to have one of his three life sentences cut at a trial starting Wednesday in Paris.

The 71-year-old Venezuelan militant, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has been behind bars in France since his arrest in Sudan in 1994 after two decades on the run.

"I am a professional revolutionary; revolution is my job," the left-winger who fought alongside radicalised Palestinians, Germany's Red Army Faction and the Japanese Red Army, told a French appeals court in 2018.

A year earlier, a lower court had given him a third life sentence over a grenade attack at a store in the French capital in 1974 that killed two people and injured 34 others.

In 2019, France's top court of appeal upheld his murder conviction but ordered a new trial to reconsider his sentence, saying that he should not have been convicted of both carrying and using a grenade because it amounted to being convicted twice of the same offence.

The trial is scheduled to last three days.

Carlos has always denied responsibility for the attack at the Publicis Drugstore at Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the heart of Paris's Left Bank.

No DNA evidence or fingerprints were found after the bombing but a former comrade-in-arms linked Carlos to the attack, which investigators believe was designed to pressure France into freeing a jailed Japanese militant.

Carlos is also serving life sentences over the 1975 murders of two French policemen and a police informer as well as for a series of bombings in Paris and Marseille in 1982 and 1983, which killed a total of 11 people and left dozens injured.

He became one of the world's most-wanted men after leading a brazen attack on a meeting of the OPEC oil cartel in Vienna in 1975.

Carlos and five other gunmen took 11 oil ministers and dozens of others hostage.

Three people were killed before Austrian authorities agreed to supply Carlos with a plane to fly him and his team to Algiers with around 40 hostages who were later released in return for a hefty ransom.

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