'Carlos the Jackal' trial opens in Paris

  • 'Carlos the Jackal' trial opens in Paris

'Carlos the Jackal' trial opens in Paris

In the late afternoon of September 15, 1974, a grenade was lobbed into the entrance of the store, killing two men and leaving 34 people injured.

In this Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2000 file photo, Venezuelan worldwide terrorist Carlos the Jackal whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, left, sits with his French lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre in a Paris courtroom.

Carlos the Jackal, once the world's most wanted fugitive in the 1970s and early 1980s, went on trial in France on Monday for the deadly bombing of a Paris shop more than 40 years ago.

"What exactly is the point of having a trial so long after the events?" lawyer Isabelle Coutant-Peyre said.

The media began calling Sanchez "Carlos the Jackal" in reference to the novel "The Day of the Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth which revolves around a terrorist. He was arrested in 1994 in Sudan, 20 years after the first attack he was accused of.

With attention in France now focused on the jihadist threat after a string of bloody attacks, the trial reaches back to a time when Europe was repeatedly targeted by groups sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. "Their wounds have never healed", Holleaux said.

In an interview with Al Watan Al-Arabi magazine in 1979, Ramirez admitted to throwing the grenade to force the French government to give in to the demands of the Japanese Red Army, a communist militant group, which was demanding the release of one of its members who had been arrested at Paris Orly airport two months earlier. The attack, he said, came as a backup operation for a hostage-taking that was then ongoing at the French Embassy in the Netherlands.

The U.S. -made hand grenade used in the Publicis attack came from the same batch as three grenades used in The Hague attack and another grenade found in a Paris apartment used by Ramirez, they say.

Ramirez Sanchez faces charges including "murders carried out with a terrorist organization".

Carlos the Jackal raises his fist in court in Paris, France, Nov. 28, 2000.

At the time of the attack, Ramirez Sanchez was 24 years old and had already joined the organisation Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but had not yet achieved worldwide notoriety.

Sanchez, who has spent the last 23 years in a high-security prison, is accused of throwing a grenade into the Drugstore Publicis in Paris on September 15, 1974, killing two men and wounding 34 people.