Carlos the Jackal is sentenced to a third life term, this one for a 1974 Paris grenade attack

A combination of file pictures shows Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, from left, in the early 1970s; arriving to face trial in Paris in 2001; and arriving at court again in Paris in 2013.
(STAFF / AFP/Getty Images)

Carlos the Jackal, the self-proclaimed “professional revolutionary” who was once the most-wanted man in the world, was sentenced to a third life sentence Tuesday for the 1974 bombing of a Paris shopping arcade.

The Venezuelan-born criminal denied the charges and criticized the court for the “absurdity of a trial 43 years after the events,” but was found guilty by five judges after a two-week hearing and more than four hours of deliberation.

He has always denied the charges and his lawyers have indicated that they will appeal.

George Holleaux, the lawyer for the families of two of his victims, said “today’s verdict is proof that there is nowhere, never, impunity if one is ready to fight.”


“Let perpetrators of terrorist crimes know it: Now the victims will never give up,” he added.

Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, has already been behind bars for 23 years in France after receiving two life sentences for crimes committed in the 1970s and ’80s in the name of the Palestinian cause or the Communist revolution.

He was found responsible for the 1975 murders of two French police officers and an informant.

And in 1982 and 1983, he masterminded a series of attacks in Paris and Marseille, some of which targeted trains, leaving 11 people dead and 150 wounded.

Carlos, now 67 with graying hair, appeared in court wearing a black shirt and jacket with a handkerchief in his breast pocket. He kissed the hand of his wife and lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, and made a show of blowing kisses to the media from the confines of the glass box where he sat surrounded by law enforcement.

This courtroom sketch created in Paris on Tuesday shows Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, a.k.a. Carlos the Jackal, during his trial for the deadly bombing at a Paris shopping arcade more than 40 years ago.

This latest trial relates to the grenade attack that killed two people and wounded 34 at the popular Drugstore St. Germain, a Left Bank cafe and boutique complex popular with tourists. The blast shattered windows and left a large hole in the marble floor. The deceased suffered massive internal bleeding after metal chips perforated their vital organs.

There was, however, a lack of hard evidence linking him to the scene: no DNA, fingerprints or surveillance footage. Despite this, prosecutor Remi Crosson du Cormier told the court that “all evidence gathered in this investigation points to Carlos.”

Carlos’ lawyers argued for an acquittal and said the case should never have been brought against his client.

“The magistrates didn’t dare acquit Carlos,” attorney Francis Villein said. “Let’s meet again in one year, for the appeal trial and for a new performance in this justice drama.”

Carlos was born into a well-to-do Venezuelan family and spent time studying in Moscow before joining the militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as a young man. He earned his nickname from the media because of the fictional terrorist in Frederick Forsyth’s book “The Day of the Jackal,” which was found in a property where he had stayed.

He quickly earned a reputation as a ruthless terrorist who orchestrated hostage-takings, assassinations and deadly bomb blasts, but he was not captured until 1994 by elite French police in Sudan.


When his latest trial began he boasted that “no one has executed more people than me in the Palestinian resistance,” and defended any killings as carried out in the name of “the revolution.”

Boyle is a special correspondent.


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