Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life, again

December 15, 2011 - 7:11 PM

PARIS (AP) — A Paris court convicted the Venezuelan-born terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal on Thursday of organizing four deadly attacks in France in the 1980s and sentenced him to life in prison — again.

Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, is already serving a life sentence in a French prison for a triple murder in 1975. France does not have the death penalty.

The flamboyant former gun-for-hire and self-proclaimed revolutionary returned to court last month to face charges he instigated four attacks in France in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 people and injured more than 140 others.

The court found him guilty in all four attacks, and sentenced him to life in prison with possibility of parole after 18 years.

Ramirez, 62, denied any role in the attacks. He sowed fear across Western European and Middle Eastern capitals during the Cold War, with believed links to hijackings and bombings for far-left and Palestinian terror groups.

Ramirez, relishing the rare public attention, kept the court's attention to the end of the six-week trial, speaking for five hours Thursday in his final testimony.

"I am a living archive. Most of the people of my level are dead," he said Thursday, reading from a spiral notebook in a speech that at times rambled far from the cases at hand. Three hours into it, he said, "Excuse me, I am taking my time, it's a small recapitulation."

In an emotional finale, he read a text in memory of longtime Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a sort of ideological brother who funded anti-Western attacks in his own heyday. Gadhafi was killed in October after rebels backed by NATO airstrikes pushed him from power.

"This man did more than all the revolutionaries," Carlos said, sobs choking his voice as he ended the monologue with, "Long live the revolution!"

His lawyer said Ramirez was the victim of a politicized process and criticized investigators for using archives of former communist bloc countries to help in the prosecution. Lawyers for the victims welcomed the long-awaited trial, nearly three decades after the attacks.

Three others were tried in absentia. The court convicted two of his accomplices, Palestinian Kamal Al-Issawi and German Johannes Weinrich, giving them life sentences, and acquitted a third, Christa Margot Frohlich.

Weinrich, said to head Ramirez' European operations and a former member of Germany's violent far-left Red Army Faction, is behind bars in Germany, Frohlich remains at large, and Al-Issawi's whereabouts are unknown to French authorities.

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Deborah Gouffran in Paris contributed to this report.