PARIS -- Jailed Venezuelan terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, nicknamed "Carlos the Jackal," went on trial Monday in France accused of orchestrating a deadly bombing campaign in the early 1980s.
Ramirez, who is already serving a life sentence for the murder of two French police officers and a Lebanese informant in 1975, is charged over four bombings in 1982 and 1983, which killed 11 people and injured more than 100.
The infamous 62-year-old prisoner appeared defiant as the trial got under way, telling the special criminal court in Paris he was a "revolutionary by profession" and saluting a group of supporters in the gallery with a clenched fist.
A panel of seven judges is hearing the case against Ramirez and three absent co-defendants, Germany's Johannes Weinrich and Christa Frohlich and Ali Kamal al-Issawi, a Palestinian. Weinrich is serving a life sentence in Germany. Frohlich is also believed to be living in Germany. The whereabouts of al-Issawi are unknown.
In the first attack in March 1982, a bomb exploded on a train running between Paris and the southwestern city of Toulouse, killing five people.
A month later, a car bomb exploded outside the Paris office of an Arabic-language newspaper, killing one person.
The other two attacks date to December 1983. In the first, a bomb exploded in the main train station of the city of Marseille, killing two people. Later the same day, three people were killed in a blast on a high-speed train traveling between Marseille and Paris.
Ramirez, 62, denies any involvement.
The prosecution believes that the bombing campaign was designed to obtain the freedom of Ramirez's then German girlfriend Magdalena Kopp and a Swiss associate, who had been arrested in Paris on charges of weapons possession a month before the attacks began.
According to the prosecution, after the pair's arrest, the French interior ministry received a letter bearing Ramirez's fingerprints, threatening "war" unless they were released within 30 days.
Ramirez's defense team, which includes his lawyer wife Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, challenge the existence of such a letter.
The trial reopens a chapter in international terrorism, in which Ramirez shot to fame as the suspected mastermind of a series of spectacular attacks, including a mass hostage-taking of ministers at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Vienna in 1975, in which three people were killed.
He was finally captured by French secret service agents in Sudan in 1994 and bundled off to France where he was tried and convicted of murder in 1997.
Born in Caracas in 1949 to a wealthy Marxist lawyer, Ramirez studied in Moscow and then moved to Lebanon where he fell in with the the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In the mid-1970s he converted to Islam.
In Europe he forged links with the German left-wing terrorist group, the Baader-Meinhof Group.
He was given the nickname The Jackal after a copy of Frederick Forsyth's "The Day of the Jackal" was found among his possessions.
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