Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is accused of throwing a hand grenade into a shopping area in the French capital’s Latin Quarter.
The political extremist known as Carlos the Jackal has told a French court he had only one regret about his life as a “professional revolutionary” – that he did not kill people he should have.
Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, once dubbed the world’s most wanted man, appeared in court over a deadly 1974 attack at a Paris shopping arcade.
He is accused of throwing a hand grenade from a mezzanine restaurant onto a shopping area in the French capital’s Latin Quarter. Two people were killed and 34 injured at the Drugstore Publicis.
Known worldwide as Carlos, the 67-year-old is already serving a life sentence in France for a series of murders and attacks he has been convicted of perpetrating or organising in the country on behalf of the Palestinian cause or communist revolution in the 1970s and ’80s.
As the trial opened on Monday, Carlos denounced it as a “gross manipulation of justice” 42 years after the attack. He has denied involvement and pleaded innocent.
Asked to state his profession, Carlos called himself a “professional revolutionary,” and said “I’m doing fine” in prison – after more than 20 years behind bars.
At one point, the presiding judge asked him whether he had any regrets.
“Yes, I have regrets, because I’m kindhearted, that I did not kill people I should have killed,” Carlos answered.
“I like people. I know what violence is. I don’t like violence. I saw massacres.”
Recalling how he reacted when confronted with tense situations, Carlos told the court: “I look at the scene and I shoot before everyone else. I have no merit, I was born like that.”
If convicted at the end of the new trial before a special terrorism court, he could get a third life sentence.
Carlos, who was convicted of terrorism in 2011, is charged this time with multiple first-degree murders in relation with a terrorist enterprise.
At the time of the 1974 attack, he was 24 years old and already had joined the organisation Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, but had not yet achieved worldwide notoriety.
When police arrived at the scene of the attack, they found a devastated shopping centre with all the windows shattered, multiple bloodstains and a hole in the marble slab of the ground floor where the grenade fell.
The two men who died were hit by metal chips that perforated vital organs and caused internal bleeding, according to court documents.
His long-time lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, claims that none of the witnesses had described a man resembling her client, and that the whole case was trumped-up.
The case took so long to go to trial because it was first dismissed for lack of evidence before being reopened when Carlos was arrested and imprisoned in France.
His lawyers repeatedly argued against holding a trial, claiming the attack was too long ago and that it will not make a difference for Carlos, already in prison for life.
Prosecutor Remi Crosson du Cormier argued that the trial remains relevant today. “Democracy has two principal enemies — totalitarianism, and terrorism,” he said, suggesting that Carlos is among “those who threaten democracy by their actions”.