A special anti-terrorist court at the Palais de Justice in Paris began proceedings on Monday in the trial of alleged terrorist "Carlos the Jackal" [BBC profile] accused of planning numerous bombings throughout France in the early 80s. Venezuelan-born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, widely known as "Carlos the Jackal," is currently serving a life sentence in France [NYT report] for the murder of two French policemen and a Lebanese informer in 1975. Sanchez was convicted in absentia for those murders in 1992. He was captured by the French secret service in 1994, retried for those crimes and began serving a life sentence after he was again convicted in 1997 [CNN report]. He faces new charges stemming from his alleged involvement in four bombings in France in 1982 and 1983, including two bombings that took place in Marseilles on New Year's Eve in 1983. A total of 11 people were killed in the bombings and nearly 200 were injured. The trial is expected to last for six weeks.
The current charges against Sanchez stem from a lengthy investigation lead by Jean-Louis Bruguiere [BBC profile], a French investigating judge. In May 2007, French officials raised the possibility of charging [JURIST report] Sanchez for the bombings. He was eventually formally charged, but a court date was not set until this year. In July 2006, the appeals chamber of the European Court of Human Rights [official website] in Strasbourg rejected an appeal [JURIST report] from Sanchez claiming that the eight years he spent in solitary confinement in a French prison was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. The appeals chamber ruled [JURIST report] that Sanchez' solitary confinement was not inhumane or otherwise violative of his rights.