Paris Jury Convicts Revolutionary Known As 'Carlos the Jackal' of Three 1975 Murders and
Dec. 24, 1997
Paris Jury Convicts Revolutionary Known As 'Carlos the Jackal' of Three 1975 Murders and Sentences Him to Life in PrisonBy DEBORAH SEWARD
PARIS (AP) _ The unrepentant revolutionary known as ``Carlos the Jackal'' was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday for killing three people in 1975. ``Viva la revolucion!'' Ilich Ramirez Sanchez proclaimed after the verdict.
Ramirez smiled at spectators and shook his fist in the air as police guards ushered him from the courtroom.
The verdict capped an eight-day trial in which the Venezuelan-born Ramirez, linked to some of the Cold War's most sensational terrorist attacks, was unable to refute evidence tying him to the 1975 shootings of the two French investigators and a Lebanese national in an apartment in Paris' Latin Quarter.
The nine-member jury deliberated for nearly four hours before convicting Ramirez of the shootings of investigators Raymond Dous and Jean Donatini, and pro-Palestinian militant Michel Moukharbal, who Ramirez said betrayed him.
The two agents of the DST _ France's FBI _ were investigating attacks earlier that year on Israel's El Al airlines at Orly Airport when they were gunned down.
The trial's outcome pleased Guillaume Donatini, whose father was killed in the shooting.
``It's a comfort after 22 years,'' Donatini said. ``I feel good. He's in prison for life and he'll never get out.''
In a final four-hour plea to the jury, Ramirez called the proceedings a political show trial. ``There is no law for me,'' said the dapper and graying revolutionary born to a Venezuelan Marxist lawyer who gave him Lenin's middle name.
Before Judge Yves Corneloup halted Ramirez' monologue and sent the jury to deliberate behind closed doors, the defendant said he was unafraid of spending the rest of his life behind bars.
``They want to sentence me to life in prison. I'm 48 years old, so it could be another 40 or 50 years. That doesn't horrify me,'' Ramirez said.
In his rambling harangue to the jury, Ramirez stuck to the theme he has maintained throughout the trial: that he is a political combatant with a ``love of revolution and love of justice.''
``I am a political prisoner,'' he said, speaking confidently in heavily Spanish accented French from notes in a red notebook.
Captured by French agents in Sudan three years ago, Ramirez had long been inactive, ever since his support dried up with the Cold War's end. Once feared as a terrorist mastermind and now sounding like a windy anachronism, he elicited virtually no reaction from the public during the proceedings.
At one point, a young couple wearing traditional Palestinian scarves around their necks who had sat through much of the trial, raised their fists and Ramirez reciprocated the salute.
He called the Palestinian cause ``a worldwide war and a war the world will win'' and condemned Israel as a ``terrorist nation.'' During the trial he repeatedly called his arrest ``a Zionist plot'' and that the 1975 killings were masterminded by Mossad, the Israeli secret service.
Ramirez' leading lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, said the defense would appeal the verdict.
``It was not a just trial. He was convicted on political grounds,'' she told reporters after the verdict. ``I consider that the decision comes from outside interests, especially America and Israel.
The shootings were not the most notorious cases tied to the man who became known as ``Carlos the Jackal.''
By his own count, he killed 83 people before his capture. Among other attacks, he was linked to the 1975 seizure of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet to Entebbe, Uganda.
Ramirez was captured in Khartoum, Sudan, on Aug. 14, 1994, and taken to Paris by French agents. He had been convicted in absentia of the three shooting deaths two years earlier, but French law mandated a retrial once he was in custody.
Since the start of the trial, the defense sought three witnesses to the shootings, which took place in a Latin Quarter apartment rented by a friend of Ramirez.
But prosecutors claimed they were unable to find the witnesses in question, all Latin American students studying in Paris. Instead, the court heard 22-year-old depositions given by witnesses shortly after the shootings.
Defense attorneys contended the evidence at the trial was fabricated and the testimony was not credible.
In an impassioned plea earlier Tuesday, lawyer Olivier Maudret also assured the jury that Ramirez would not go free even if acquitted. Ramirez is also under investigation in France for four terrorist attacks.
``What I propose is acquittal,'' Maudret said. ``The solution to acquit should not shock you: Carlos will not leave jail.
``I don't ask it for Carlos, but for us, for our country, what it does best, in the name of law and truth.''
Prosecutor Gino Necchi asked for a life sentence for Ramirez because the victims were unarmed. Ramirez previously had risked a maximum 30-year prison term if convicted in the killings.