Carlos the Jackal trial begins in Paris

Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal, faces a trial in Paris for a grenade attack in a drugstore in 1974.

PARIS, FRANCE (MARCH 13, 2017) (REUTERS) – The trial for Carlos the Jackal, accused of a 1974 Paris drugstore bombing opened in a court in the French capital on Monday (March 13), more than 40 years later.

Carlos denies being behind the grenade attack which killed two and injured 34 on September 15, 1974. Now aged 67 and serving two life terms in jail for other crimes, Carlos appeared in court, “ready to fight” his lawyer said.

“Carlos is in a fighting spirit, he’s in great shape both physically and mentally after 22 years in jail. It’s quite incredible but that’s the way it is, it’s his nature. He has a body and a head of steel, is in good shape and ready for a fight in this trial, where he will denounce that the facts are too old, first of all. In his defence, he will remind (the court) that this affair resulted in two very clear dismissals,” said a lawyer for the defendant Francis Vuillemin ahead of the proceedings.

This is the latest instance out of a long list of court appearances for the international revolutionary from Venezuela, born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in France in 1997 for the 1975 murder of an informant for the French government and two French counter-intelligence agents.

Sanchez had built a career as one of the world’s best known guerrillas after he took OPEC oil ministers hostage at the organisation’s headquarters in Vienna, in the name of the Palestinian struggle in 1975. With backing from Soviet bloc and Middle Eastern countries, he also staged attacks in France, Britain and Germany.

Another one of his lawyers, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, whom he married in 2001 in a Muslim ceremony, said the trial no longer had any basis.

“Everything’s fine, it’s going to be good fun. We will do some palaeontology to feed the museum of political history of the French judicial system,” she said.

“This trial has no sense. It’s lapsed, there were two dismissals, it’s over,” she added.

An investigation established links between the grenade attack, Carlos and the hostage taking, which began two days earlier, of 11 people from the French embassy in the Hague by members of the “Japanese Red Army”

The explosive device used in the drugstore belonged to the same batch of the three grenades used in the hostage taking and another of which was found at a Paris flat, a Carlos hideout.

The hard-line Marxist with a Che Guevara beret became the face of 1970s and 80s anti-imperialism, his taste for women and alcohol adding to his revolutionary mystique.

After a period living in Syria in the 1990s, Ramirez moved to Sudan, where he was captured in 1994 by French special forces.