The court gave Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, 62 – better known as Carlos the Jackal – the maximum sentence demanded by the prosecutor and ruled that he must serve at least 18 years before parole.
He is already serving a sentence for the 1975 murder of two police officers and an alleged informer.
His lawyer and wife, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, called the sentence a scandal and said he would appeal.
One of his brothers, Vladimir Ramirez, claimed that the verdict had already been decided before the trial.
Carlos, who has told journalists that he was responsible for more than 100 attacks, was found guilty of planning four bombings in 1982-1983:
- A blast on the Paris-Toulouse train La Capitole – claimed by International Terrorist Friends of Carlos - killed five and injured 28;
- A car bomb outside the Paris offices of the anti-Syrian newspaper Al-Watan Al-Arabi killed a passer-by and injured 60;
- A bomb on a TGV train from Paris to Marseille killed three and injured 13;
- A blast at Marseille train station killed two.
The prosecution claimed that the attacks were not politically motivated but aimed to gain the releaseof his comrades Bruno Breguet and Magdalena Kopp accused of planning an attack on the Kuwaiti embassy in Paris.
In a five-hour speech, which the law forbade the judge to interrupt, at the end of his six-week trial, Carlos sobbed as he read what he claimed was “the testament of Moamer Kadhafi”, a “man who did more than all the revolutionaries like us in the world”.
He accepted “political and military” responsibility for all attacks made by the International Revolutionaries’ Organisation and the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine, of which he was a member, claiming that they acted for the “Palestinian cause”.
He also declared that he would like to return to Venezuela, where he was born, adding, “I won’t start hijacking planes again, I’m too old for that, but I have things to do in my country.”
Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez last month praised Carlos as a “worthy heir of the greatest struggles […] on behalf of the people and social justice”.
There were three co-accused in the case:
- Christa Froehlich – a German national tried in absentia – accused of involvement in one bombing was found not guilty;
- Johannes Weinrich, currently held in Germany on other charges, was given a life sentence;
- Ali Kamal al-Issawi, a Palestinian currently at large, was given a life sentence.