Carlos the Jackal sentenced to life in prison
A French court Thursday sentenced the notorious Venezuelan militant known as Carlos the Jackal to life in prison, with a minimum of 18 years before parole, for four deadly attacks in France in the 1980s.
He was handed the maximum sentence that had been requested by French prosecutors who had urged the court to find Carlos Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, 62, guilty of the bombings that killed 11 people and left nearly 150 injured.
Carlos first rose to prominence in 1975 when his commando group burst into the conference room where ministers from the powerful OPEC oil cartel were meeting in Vienna, taking 11 hostage.
His Paris trial dealt with four attacks that were seen as part of a private war Carlos waged against France to free two comrades, including his future wife, who were arrested in Paris while planning to attack the Kuwaiti embassy.
French authorities received a letter, allegedly marked with Carlos's fingerprints, threatening "war" if the pair were not released within 30 days.
French prosecutor Olivier Bray had argued that the bombings in France in 1982 and 1983 were not "targeted" political actions, but "blind" attacks aimed to "kill the maximum number of people with the minimum of risk."
He said 30 years was "too long" for Carlos's victims to have waited for his conviction, but that "the duty of democracies is to never give up ... arresting those behind attacks and bringing them to justice."
Carlos was arrested in Sudan in 1994 and transferred to France, where he has since been held in various jails. In 1997 he was convicted of the 1975 murder of a civilian and two policemen, and jailed for life.
Carlos has boasted in newspaper interviews of carrying out more than 100 attacks as the leader of a militant gang that operated in Europe on behalf of Warsaw Pact intelligence agencies and militant Palestinian groups.
Despite his notoriety, he has drawn the support of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who praised him last month as a "worthy heir of the greatest struggles ... on behalf of the people and social justice."
© 2011 AFP