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Details on Carlos the Jackal Sought

September 16, 1999

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ The Venezuelan government has asked France to explain how French police captured the Venezuelan-born terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, and may request that the case be reopened if irregularities are found, an official said Wednesday.

Ernesto Kleber, the Venezuelan foreign ministry’s judicial consultant, told The Associated Press that Venezuela requested the information several months ago but has received no response. Foreign Minister Jose Vicente Rangel may send a letter protesting the delay and demanding an immediate answer, he said.

Venezuelan officials contend that Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, may have been illegally arrested by the French. They have also complained about his alleged mistreatment in a Paris prison, though Kleber said Wednesday that conditions improved after their protests.

Ramirez, 49, was detained in Khartoum, Sudan, on Aug. 15, 1994, and hauled to Paris in a sack. A French court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder of two French secret agents and an informer.

Once considered among the world’s most wanted men, Ramirez was linked to the 1975 seizure of OPEC ministers in Vienna, Austria, and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jet to Uganda.

Ramirez himself has filed a complaint against France’s leading anti-terrorism judge, saying the judge illegally permitted a journalist to accompany him on an investigative trip. A review of that allegation is pending.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stirred controversy in April, two months after taking office, by writing a letter to Ramirez in which he addressed the inmate as ``Dear compatriot.″ According to press reports, he signed the missive ``with profound faith in the cause and the mission, now and forever.″

Chavez was the leader of failed 1992 coup attempt in Venezuela. He was elected president last December on a wave of popular anger over corruption and declining living standards.

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