Feared terror mastermind Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as “Carlos the Jackal,” went on trial again Monday in Paris for four deadly attacks in France that took place almost three decades ago. He is already serving a life sentence for a triple murder in 1975.
The 62-year-old appeared defiant and smiling in court, raising his fist after identifying himself as “a professional revolutionary.”
He has denied any role in the attacks, which took place on two trains, a newspaper office and a cultural center, killing 11 people and injuring more than 140 others.
The trial is expected to last six weeks. If Ramirez is convicted, he could face a second life sentence.
Ramirez was first dubbed “The Jackal” by The Guardian, a British newspaper, after a correspondent reportedly saw the thriller novel The Day of the Jackal near some of the terrorist's belongings. The novel follows a professional assassin who is hired on contract to kill Charles de Gaulle, the then President of France.
The Guardian reported Monday that Ramirez looked in court like “a shadow of the imperialist scourge he had once been.”
There stood a 62-year-old man with receding grey hair, matching beard and reading glasses, wearing what looked suspiciously like an anorak and needing a chair because of "back problems".
But The Guardian also points out that Ramirez had not lost the ability to provoke or invoke theatrics, at times giving the Communist clenched-fist salute, and at others blowing kisses to supporters.
“He’s in a fighting mood as always,” Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, Ramirez’s lawyer and girlfriend, told reporters, according to the Associated Press. She also said there was “no reason” he should be on trial 30 years after the events took place.
But Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for some civil parties to the case, argued the trial was important because it marked “the end of the culture of impunity” for terrorists in the public eye.
Ramirez captured the public’s imagination long before Monday’s trial, with some seeing him as a romanticized hero of the revolution, and others fearing what he was capable of.
A five-and-a-half-hour biopic of Ramirez’s life released in 2010, “Carlos the Jackal,” was greeted with widespread critical acclaim but decried by Ramirez for its inaccuracies. Watch the trailer below: