"Carlos the Jackal" to stand trial for 1974 grenade attack

Illich Ramirez Sanchez will face a three-judge panel in connection with his role in the attack on the Drugstore Publicis, a busy shop once located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the heart of Paris.

Photo by: Reuters Archive
Photo by: Reuters Archive

"Carlos the Jackal" is currently serving a life sentence in France.

One of the world's most notorious terrorists, known as "Carlos the Jackal," is set to stand trial again in France on Monday.

The Venezuelan guerilla, whose real name is Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, is accused of a deadly bombing in Paris in 1974.

Ramirez Sanchez will face a three-judge panel in connection with his role in the attack on the Drugstore Publicis, a busy shop once located in Saint-Germain-des-Pres in the heart of Paris.

In the late afternoon of September 15, 1974, a grenade was lobbed into the entrance of the store, killing two men and leaving 34 people injured.

His long-time lawyer and fiancé, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, said the decision to re-open the case now is purely political.

One of the most notorious political terrorists during the 1970s and '80s is serving a life sentence in France for a series of murders and attacks he perpetrated or organised in the country on behalf of the Palestinian cause or communist revolution.

He first was convicted by a French court 20 years ago, and again in 2011 and 2013.

If convicted on first-degree murder charges in his latest trial, he could get a third life sentence.

At the time, Ramirez Sanchez, now 67, was 24-years-old and had already joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine organisation.

When police arrived, they found a devastated mall with all the windows shattered, multiple bloodstains and a hole in the marble slab of the ground floor where the grenade fell.

The two men who died were hit by metal chips that perforated vital organs and caused large internal bleeding, according to court documents.

Ramirez Sanchez pleaded innocent and denied involvement in the case.

Coutant-Peyre claims that none of the witnesses from the trendy Drugstore Publicis restaurant had described a man resembling her client, and that the whole case was trumped-up.

"Hero of the Palestinian resistance"

An Arab language news magazine in France, Al Watan Al Arabi, published a long interview with a man it identified as Ramirez Sanchez five years after the attack.

He allegedly claimed he had personally thrown the grenade into the restaurant, described the full details of the operation and explained why it was carried out.

Ramirez Sanchez later disputed he had given the interview.

In the 1979 article, the man said to be Sanchez said he attacked the Drugstore Publicis to pressure for the release of a Japanese activist arrested in France two months earlier.

The attack, he said, came as a backup operation for a hostage-taking that was then ongoing at the French Embassy in the Netherlands.

It was in the name of the Palestinian cause that he subsequently became the military chief of the PFLP in Europe, claiming the "operational and political responsibility" for all the operations of the group on the continent and also for "all the wounded and all the dead," according to court documents.

"I am a hero of the Palestinian resistance, and I am the only survivor of [the group's] professional executives in Europe because I used to shoot first," he told investigators.

Ramirez Sanchez was arrested in Sudan by the French intelligence services in 1994, 20 years after the first attack was blamed on him in France.

The case took so long to go to trial because it was first dismissed for lack of evidence before being reopened when Carlos was arrested and imprisoned in France.

His lawyers at the time introduced challenges at every stage of the proceedings.

The case will be heard by a special court made up of judges and with no jurors, as is the custom with terrorism trials in France.

During one interrogation, Ramirez Sanchez allegedly told investigators that "in 1974 it was obviously an attack. A grenade was thrown." He added, "I don't think the person who did this wanted to hurt the poor people who were present."

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies