French prosecutors seek life sentence for Carlos the Jackal
Prosecutors on Tuesday urged a French court to impose a life sentence on notorious Venezuelan militant Carlos the Jackal, with a minimum of 18 years before parole, for a string of bombings in France in the 1980s.
In final arguments earlier Tuesday prosecutor Olivier Bray urged the court to find Carlos, whose full name is Carlos Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, guilty of the attacks that killed 11 people.
The prosecutors' sentence call is the maximum available for the court in Paris to hand down to Carlos, 62, who 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.
Bray argued that the bombings in France in 1982 and 1983 were not "targetted" 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 alleged 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."
His Paris trial deals with four attacks that are 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' fingerprints, threatening "war" if the pair were not released within 30 days.
The series of attacks began with the bombing of the express train "Le Capitole" on March 29, 1982, which was running from Paris to the southern city of Toulouse.
Five died in the attack and 28 were wounded.
The attack on Le Capitole was claimed by the "International Terrorist Friends of Carlos" and was followed on April 22, 1982, by the Paris car bombing of anti-Syrian newspaper Al-Watan Al-Arabi, which killed a passer-by and wounded 60.
On the same day, Carlos's comrade Bruno Breguet and future wife Magdalena Kopp were convicted of the foiled embassy attack.
Two more bombings took place on New Year's Eve 1983. One hit a high-speed TGV train between Marseille and Paris, killing three people and wounding 13. Moments later, a bomb in a Marseille train station killed two.
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, Ramirez 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."
In court Tuesday, the prosecutors stressed "the extreme, present absolute and constant danger," which the defendant represents.
The prosecutor's office also sought life terms for two co-accused; German Johannes Weinrich, the Jackal's former right-hand man currently held in Germany on separate charges, and Palestinian Ali Kamal Al Issawi who is on the run.
© 2011 AFP