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'Carlos the Jackal' on trial for 1980s bombings in France

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:25 PM EST, Mon November 7, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: "I am a professional revolutionary," Ramirez says in court
  • NEW: After 17 years, Ramirez "hasn't learned" a thing, an attorney says
  • The attacks took place in 1982 and 1983 and killed 11 people
  • Ramirez was captured in 1994 in Sudan after two decades on the run

(CNN) -- A man known as "Carlos the Jackal" stood trial in Paris on Monday, accused of fatal bombings in France during the 1980s.

The 62-year-old, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, was once among the world's most wanted fugitives.

He is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on two trains, a train station and a newspaper office in France in 1982 and 1983. The bombings killed 11 and injured more than 100.

The Venezuelan-born revolutionary has been serving a life sentence in France since 1997, when he was convicted for the shooting deaths of two French secret agents and an informant in 1975.

Ramirez, who was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, first made headlines in 1975 when he led an attack on an OPEC meeting in Vienna that took at least 60 hostage, including 11 oil ministers. He was nicknamed "Carlos the Jackal" by the press, a reference to the principal character and assassin in Frederick Forsyth's novel "The Day of the Jackal."

After two decades on the run, Ramirez was captured in 1994 in Sudan and taken to Paris in a sack.

Entering court dressed casually in jeans and a navy jacket Monday, Ramirez smiled when asked to identify his profession. "I am a professional revolutionary," he replied.

Ramirez regularly raised his fist in the air to those sitting in the back of the courtroom who had come to support him.

Francis Szpiner, lawyer for some civil parties in the case, said he was not put off by Ramirez's theatrics.

"I am concerned that 17 years later, we can see that he hasn't learned or forgotten a thing. He has not changed a bit, so I expect a difficult trial and the victims will simply have to listen to him with patience and perseverance," Szpiner said.

Ramirez's lawyer and wife, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre told reporters outside the courtroom that her client was in a "fighting mood" and that she was ready to prove his innocence.

"Let's be concrete. Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is not implicated by any evidence," she said, adding that "a lie is being prepared for these victims who in turn will never know who was behind the attacks."

A seven-judge terrorism panel will rule after a six week trial.

Journalist Saskya Vandoorne contributed to this report.

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