France hands Carlos the Jackal another life prison term

PARIS, (Reuters) – A French court sentenced  flamboyant Marxist militant Carlos the Jackal to another life  prison term yesterday for bomb attacks that killed 11 people  nearly three decades ago.

The Venezuelan defendant, 62, whose real name is Ilich  Ramirez Sanchez, has been locked up in France for almost 20  years serving a life sentence in a separate case for killing two  police officers and an informant in Paris in 1975.

Sentencing Ramirez to an additional life term, the special  terrorism court in Paris made up of seven magistrates said he  should serve a minimum of 18 years in jail.

The verdict could push back the date on which he can apply  for conditional release, currently set for 2012.
Defence lawyers called the decision a scandal and said their  client would file an appeal.

Ramirez was accused of masterminding four separate attacks  in France on two trains, a train station and a Paris street that  killed 11 people and wounded nearly 200.

Carlos

Prosecutors said the bombings were his answer to the police  seizure of two of his gang, including his lover, and had argued  that he remained a danger to the public.

Earlier yesterday, Ramirez – once one of the most wanted  international criminals – addressed the court in a five-hour  monologue, alternately rambling, vitriolic and poignant, calling  himself a “living martyr” in defending his innocence.

Ramirez, a self-dubbed “elite gunman”, appeared resigned to  a guilty verdict. Death in prison, he said at one point, “is the  role of a revolutionary.”
“I am in prison … condemned in a pre-decided case,” he  told the court, his voice rising in volume.

 SHADES OF CHE GUEVARA
Ramirez, a colourful figure recognisable at the height of  his fame by his Che Guevara-style beret, sunglasses and Havana  cigars, sealed his notoriety in a bloody hostage-taking of OPEC  oil ministers in 1975.

During the Cold War he received backing from Soviet bloc and  Middle Eastern countries, staging attacks throughout Europe for  more than two decades before being captured in Sudan in 1994.

During the six-week trial, Ramirez appeared more like a  master of ceremonies than a defendant, talking over speakers,  interrupting judges, correcting lawyers and occasionally beaming  benevolently from his caged-in defendant’s box.

He denied any specific involvement in the four bombings in  1982 and 1983 on a Paris street, two trains and a Marseille  train station that wounded nearly 200 people and left 11 dead.  Prosecutors say the bombings were Ramirez’s answer to the police  seizure of two of his gang, including his lover.
“There is nothing … to connect me with these four  attacks,” he told the court, making a zero sign with his thumb  and index finger.

Like a modern-day Scheherazade, Ramirez wove story after  story, often smiling and waxing nostalgic about former comrades,  and sometimes turning fiery to rail at the system.

His unrelenting discourse touched on a variety of topics,  from prison life to Zionist strategy, Soviet passports, the  French state, hashish and even the death penalty.

Ramirez broke down, his powerful voice wavering when, at the  end of his speech, he read from what he said was the last will  of fallen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“I will continue the fight,” he read from the text, before  breaking off, overcome with emotion. A group of about a dozen  youths in the courtroom audience raised their fists in the air,  shouting encouragement at Ramirez.

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