EU Court Dismisses Carlos the Jackal's Solitary Confinement Appeal

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that eight years of solitary confinement for Carlos the Jackal did not violate the jailed terrorist's rights or amount to inhumane treatment.

The court's Grand Chamber upheld a lower chamber's January 2005 ruling that the lengthy solitary confinement in a French prison did not breach the European Convention on Human Rights.

But the court awarded Venezuelan Ilich Ramirez Sanchez $12,800 in damages because a French administrative court had declined to hear his original petition objecting to the prison conditions. The rights court called that decision a violation of the prisoner's rights.

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Ramirez was held in solitary from his detention in 1994 until 2002 on grounds that he was dangerous and an escape risk and order needed to be maintained in the prison.

Ramirez, who gained international notoriety as the Cold War-era mastermind of deadly bombings, assassinations and hostage dramas, is serving a life sentence for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informer. He was tracked down in Sudan in 1994 and hauled to Paris in a sack by French secret service agents.

He said he was put in a small, dilapidated cell and was authorized to leave it only for a two-hour daily walk. The human rights court said the cell was sufficient for one prisoner and that he was not held in complete isolation.

"The cell ... contained a bed, a table and washing and toilet facilities; it also had a window which provided natural light. The applicant had books, newspapers and a television, and access to the exercise yard for two hours a day and to a cardiac-training room for one hour a day," the court said in its judgment.

The court noted that Ramirez had received twice-weekly visits from a doctor, a monthly visit from a priest and very frequent visits from one or more of his 58 lawyers.