After 20-year inquiry, Carlos the Jackal faces charges in bombings

Published May 5, 2007

PARIS - The Cold War-era terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal, already serving a life sentence, will be tried in connection with four bombing attacks that killed 11 people and wounded almost 200 in France in 1982 and 1983.

A Venezuelan whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, he was captured by French authorities in Sudan in 1994, taken back to France and convicted of killing two French police officers and their Lebanese informant in 1975.

In November, a French magistrate, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, concluded a 20-year investigation of Ramirez's role in the four bombing attacks. The bombings were part of a private war he is accused of waging in retaliation for the arrest of his then-companion, Magdalena Kopp, a onetime German revolutionary.

Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, a lawyer for Ramirez who married him in a Muslim ceremony in prison in 2001, said in an interview on Friday that the trial announcement seemed timed to raise publicity for Bruguiere, who is beginning a campaign for Parliament.

"I think that this is political propaganda, " Coutant-Peyre said of the court order, noting that it was swiftly "announced to the press, but Bruguiere didn't notify the lawyer or any of the key people involved." She added that Bruguiere had chosen an ideal time "to pursue a communist, a Muslim, a Palestinian fighter and Venezuelan revolutionary."

Bruguiere dismissed Coutant-Peyre's complaint. "That's not serious, " he said. "She's the one playing politics, not me."

The charges against Ramirez stem from a bombing in March 1982 of a train bound from Paris to Toulouse in southwest France; an attack in April 1982 on the Paris offices of a newspaper, Al Watan; and the bombing in December 1983 of a high-speed train and a Marseille station. The trial date has not been set.

Prosecutors say Ramirez was waging a personal war to free Kopp, who was arrested in 1982 in Paris with another man as they prepared to carry out an attack.


To read an earlier story by David Adams on Carlos the Jackal, go to links.tampabay.com