A chained but cocky Carlos the Jackal bantered with France's top terrorism judge Tuesday while being arraigned on charges he engineered a deadly bombing in Paris.
The Venezuelan-born Carlos, 44, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, is accused of being a terrorist-for-hire for a variety of groups and eluded Western intelligence agencies for 20 years until his arrest in Sudan. The bombing in Paris was among the lesser of the crimes he is suspected of committing.A day after being secretly flown to France, Carlos was escorted into a closed hearing at the Palais de Justice by five policemen carrying assault rifles and wearing bulletproof vests. Chains stood out against his white pants, beige sweater and brown slip-on shoes.
Witnesses said he casually talked with his guards about guns and then threw out some quips at the entrance of Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, France's renowned judge of terrorism cases who travels with a bodyguard and carries a concealed pistol.
"Ah, here's the judge, how's it going?" Carlos said to Bruguiere.
"And you?" Bruguiere replied.
"Still alive, for a long time to come," answered Carlos, whose death had been rumored numerous times in recent years. Then, to his escorts, he added, "This guy, he's a star."
Initially assigned three court-appointed attorneys, Carlos took on noted lawyer Jacques Verges, who has made a career of defending notorious people, including Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie.
Carlos was charged with masterminding a 1982 bombing just off Paris' Champs Elysees that killed one person and wounded 63.
He will be charged later by a panel of judges with the fatal shooting of two counterintelligence agents in 1975. A French court convicted him in absentia in 1992 and sentenced him to life in prison for those slayings, but under French law he will have to be retried.
Interior Minister Charles Pasqua, announcing the arrest Monday, said Carlos claims to have killed 83 people around the world.
"I rejoice that one of the most dangerous terrorists in recent years is now in the hands of justice," he said.
Pasqua said Carlos was directly or indirectly responsible for killing at least 15 people in France and injuring 200.
As a free-lance terrorist, Carlos reportedly teamed up with Germany's Red Army Faction, the Japanese Red Army, the Basque sep-a-rat-ist movement in Spain and various Palestinian organizations.
He was most often linked to Middle East terrorism. Intelligence reports connected him with the 1975 attack on OPEC headquarters and the 1976 hijacking of an Air France jetliner to Entebbe, Uganda.
Carlos got his nom de guerre after British tabloids learned that a copy of the 1971 thriller "Day of the Jackal" was found in one of his London safehouses. The Frederick Forsyth novel tells the story of a killer hired to assassinate French President Charles de Gaulle.
Pasqua said French counterintelligence agents, helped by friendly countries, found Carlos early this year in Sudan, where he had gone six months ago on a false passport and was living under a false name.
But a lawyer acting for Carlos said his client had been drugged and abducted from Sudan.
"There was a deal between the French and Sudanese governments. Carlos was betrayed by the Sudanese guards charged with his protection," lawyer Mourad Oussedik told reporters after meeting Carlos. "There was no procedure or extradition. It was a kidnapping."
Oussedik said his client "was bound, drugged and put on board a French plane where agents of the DST (French counterintelligence) were waiting for him."
Meanwhile, Magdalena Kopp, Carlo's German wife, has been separated from him for the last few years and is living in Venezuela with her 8-year-old daughter, her mother said Tuesday.
Rosina Kopp, 82, told Reuters that her daughter and granddaughter had called periodically over the last three years to say that they were doing well since settling in Venezuela in 1991.