'Carlos The Jackal' Faces Trial Over 1980s Paris Bombings
Carlos The Jackal, the Venezuelan self-styled revolutionary and militant, is appearing in court for his alleged involvement in four deadly bombings in France in the 1980s.
"I'm a professional revolutionary" the 62-year-old said on Monday, as he arrived at court to begin his trial. He remained defiant as ever, raising a fist, making anti-Zionist remarks and smiling to someone in the audience, the French news agency AFP reported.
He is still seen in some quarters as a revolutionary hero. Supporters in the gallery of the court cheered when he took a diversion from proceedings to blame 'Imperialists' for waging war on Muslims, and attacked the 'racist Zionists of Israel'.
The Marxist radical, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, is expected to plead not guilty before the seven-judge panel. But the prosecution will argue that the bomb attacks of cars, trains and stations from 1982 to 1983 were his revenge for the arrest two of his revolutionary gang.
"He's in a fighting mood as always," Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, Ramirez's lawyer and wife, told reporters outside the Palais de Justice. She accused prosecutors of putting him on trial for "propaganda or some other interests rather than the ones of justice."
Coutant-Peyre insisted that her husband was not "a criminal but a politician, like Nelson Mandela. He is a freedom fighter.'
Ramirez is being held in solitary confinement in Paris, where he is serving life for murder for the killings of two French policemen and their suspected informant in 1975. He has been on a nine-day hunger strike in protest at the way he is being treated in prison.
But he is yet to be tried for most of the crimes he is suspected of having committed. In France alone, six other cases against him are pending trial.
His career of masterminding bombings, kidnappings and hijackings across Europe in the 1970s and 1980s makes him one of the most notorious terrorists in history.
On Sunday, Ramirez boasted in an interview with Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional of committing more than 100 attacks. He claimed there few civilian casualties: "I calculated that they were fewer than 10 percent. So out of 1,500 to 2,000 killed, there were not more than 200 civilian victims."
"I am not willing to declare him guilty of something that is considered a heroic act when committed by powerful nations.Time in jail has only served to deepen my brother's beliefs. His condemnation of the enemy strengthens every time he sees the grip of imperialism tighten, like we've just seen in Libya".
The only remorse that Ramirez has shown so far is his regret for being absent from his children's lives, but even then he remained focused on his revolutionary agenda, saying it was "the price to pay". His daughter, Elba, was born in 1986, but it is not known how many other children he has.
Philippe Rouault, one of the bombing victims, told the Guardian outside the court, "we have been waiting 30 years for this. We hope that he'll explain things and make a little gesture of sympathy to the victims".
His latest trial is expected to last at least six weeks.