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Carlos the Jackal to Face Trial in Terror Attacks in France

The Cold-War era terrorist Carlos the Jackal was ordered to stand trial for his alleged role in deadly terror bombings in 1982 and 1983 in France — including two carried out to try to gain his jailed girlfriend's freedom, a judicial official said Friday.

Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere ordered Carlos, whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, to stand trial for the four attacks, which killed 12 people and injured at least 100, a judicial official said on condition of anonymity.

Also ordered to stand trial were two Germans and a Palestinian.

The date of the trial has not been set, said the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media about investigative matters. All four suspects face up to life in prison if convicted.

Ramirez, 57, is already serving a life sentence in France for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informer. He gained international notoriety as the mastermind of deadly bombings, killings and hostage dramas.

After years on the run, Ramirez was captured in Sudan in 1994 and hauled in a sack to Paris by French secret service agents. He was convicted three years later for the 1975 murders.

Last year, Bruguiere wrapped up 20 years of investigations into Ramirez' possible role in the 1982-83 attacks.

Germans Christa Froehlich, 64, and Johannes Weinrich, 59, and Palestinian Ali Kamal al-Issawi, 65, will also face trial in the case, suspected of roles in different attacks.

Investigators suspect that Ramirez instigated the first two attacks to gain the release of two jailed radical leftists, Bruno Breguet and Magdalena Kopp — at the time Ramirez' girlfriend.

Ramirez allegedly sent a letter to the French Embassy in the Netherlands threatening violence if they were not released by March 25, 1982. On March 29, a bomb hit a train from Paris to Toulouse in southwestern France, killing five people.

On April 22 that year, the day Kopp and Breguet went on trial in Paris, a car bomb hit in front of the Paris offices of the Arab newspaper Al-Watan, killing one. Kopp and Breguet were convicted and sentenced to four and five years in prison, respectively.

Carlos is also suspected in twin New Year's Eve blasts on Dec. 31, 1983. An explosion at a Marseille train station killed two people and a bombing of a TGV high-speed train in Tain-l'Hermitage in eastern France killed three.

A group calling itself the Organization for the Arab Armed Struggle claimed responsibility for those attacks in two letters, one of which had Ramirez' fingerprints on it, judicial officials have said.

Ramirez is also suspected in the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of a French jetliner in flight to Entebbe, Uganda. Ramirez has testified that he led a 1975 attack that killed three people at the OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Ramirez has remained vocal from behind bars, and was convicted for saying in a 2004 TV interview that terror attacks are sometimes "legal." A Paris court later overturned the conviction, ruling that the remarks were taken out of context.

Weinrich, who once headed European operations for Carlos, is already serving a life sentence for a 1983 attack on a French cultural center in then-West Berlin that killed one man.

Weinrich was charged in Germany with murder for his alleged role in the New Year's Eve blasts and the Paris car bombing, but judges dropped the case in 2004 after a 17-month trial, saying they lacked solid evidence of his involvement.