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Monday, November 23, 1998 Published at 22:20 GMT

World: Europe

Carlos the Jackal ends hunger strike

Lawyers said Carlos was critical

Carlos the Jackal, who is serving a life sentence for murder in France, has ended a 20-day hunger strike.

He took the decision after an appeal by his parents and the leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, George Habash.

Carlos, real name Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, went on hunger strike to protest at being held in solitary confinement at La Sante prison in Paris for the past four years.

He was reported to have been taking fluids, but not food, during his protest.

Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, one of his lawyers, said her client was "already at the stage where irreversible accidents were possible".

[ image: Carlos is still under investigation for Paris bombings]
Carlos is still under investigation for Paris bombings
The 49-year-old Carlos - who has been linked to a series of international bombings, kidnappings and hijackings during the 1970s and 1980s - was reported to be rapidly weakening and mentally preparing for death.

The Venezuelan-born guerrilla has been held in solitary confinement since being captured by French agents in Sudan, in August 1994, and hauled to Paris in a sack.

He is serving a life sentence for the murders of two French investigators and a Lebanese national in 1975. He is under investigation for four terrorist attacks in France.

Appeals against conditions

Before Carlos's decision to end his protest, his lawyer, Francis Vuillemin, urged French President Jacques Chirac to end his client's solitary confinement, saying: "The man has been buried alive".

In a letter on Monday, Mr Vuillemin wrote: "[Carlos] is not a guinea pig on which one can experiment endlessly on the capacity of resistance to the inhumane."

An official at the Venezuelan embassy said it had also sent a letter to the French foreign ministry asking that Ramirez's human rights be respected.

Carlos acquired his nickname after a journalist found a copy of the Frederick Forsyth novel The Day of the Jackal in his flat.

Many have accused Carlos of the 1975 seizure of Opec oil ministers in Vienna and the 1976 Palestinian hijacking of an Air France jet to Uganda.

He has also been linked to the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

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