The Marxist-Leninist radical whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez is already serving a life sentence in France for the 1975 murder of two French policemen and a police informer.
Carlos, born in 1949, rose to prominence in 1975 when his commando group burst into the conference room where ministers from the powerful OPEC oil cartel were meeting in Vienna. He took 11 hostages.
Carlos will this time be tried for “complicity in killings and destruction of property using explosive substances” for bombings in France in 1982 and 1983 that killed 11 and injured more than 100 people.
He is charged, with three others, for attacks on a train from Paris to the southwestern city of Toulouse that left five dead; on the Paris office of the Arabic-language Al Watan magazine that killed one; on the Saint-Charles train station in the Mediterranean city of Marseille that killed two and on a high-speed TGV train that killed three.
The Paris-Toulouse train line was frequently used at the time by Jacques Chirac, France’s former right-wing president who was then mayor of Paris.
The charge sheet says the attacks were part of a “private war” waged by Carlos against France to obtain the release of two members of his gang who were arrested as they prepared an attack on the Kuwaiti embassy in Paris.
After two decades on the run, Carlos was finally captured in Khartoum in 1994 by French secret service agents acting with the help of the Sudanese government.
Three other suspected members of Carlos‘s criminal organisation — “Ali” Kamal Al-Issawi, Christa-Margot Froehlich et Johannes Weinrich — will also stand trial for the bombings.
The trial is scheduled to run until December 16 in a special terrorism court.