Carlos the Jackal: 1974 Paris attack conviction leads to third life sentence

Kim Willsher in Paris
A courtroom sketch of Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka Carlos the Jackal Photograph: Benoit Peyrucq/AFP/Getty Images

The man known as “Carlos the Jackal” has been given a third life sentence for a 1974 attack on a Paris drugstore that killed two people and wounded 34.

Five judges ruled Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramírez Sánchez was responsible for throwing a grenade on the Champs Elysees. He is already serving two life sentences in France for attacks carried out in the 1970s and 80s.

As the 15-day special hearing in a special Paris court, the 67-year-old denounced “an absurd trial” for a 42-year-old crime. Sánchez, the only accused in court, had denied any involvement in the attack and argued there was no proof against him.

On the first day of the hearing he declared – as he had in previous court appearances – that he had been “a professional revolutionary” since his teenage years. In long, rambling monologues, Sánchez complained of blatant “manipulations of justice” and alleged the investigation into the attack had been sabotaged. At one point he was instructed by the president of the court to keep his answers brief.

Sitting in a glass box flanked by three police officers, he made a great show of kissing the hand of lawyer and wife, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, and blowing kisses to the media.

His legal team criticised the lack of a jury, the absence of numerous witness and the legal procedure. Before the court retired to consider its verdict, he pleaded for judges to “make the only correct decision” and said he would appeal if convicted.

He is already serving two life sentences for the 1975 murder of two French police officers and an informant in Paris, and for masterminding attacks on two trains, a train station and a Paris street that killed 11 people and wounded about 150 in 1982 and 1983.

Sánchez was once one of the world’s most wanted criminals. He has been imprisoned in France for 23 years after French special forces kidnapped him in Khartoum, Sudan, and brought him back to France.

The Marxist revolutionary boasted in the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional before a previous trial in 2011 that he had killed up to 2,000 people in more than 100 attacks. Until then, Sánchez had only ever admitted taking 70 people hostage during a meeting of the Opec oil-producing countries in Austria in December 1975, which led to three deaths.

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