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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 13:50 GMT
Jackal aide on trial
Johannes Weinrich
Weinrich is accused of carrying out several attacks in the 1980s
The trial of a man believed to be the former right-hand man of Carlos the Jackal, the world's most wanted terrorist in the 1970s and 1980s, has begun in Berlin.

The defendant, Johannes Weinrich, 55, is accused of carrying out a series of bomb attacks across western Europe.

He faces six charges of murder and a 153 counts of attempted murder for the attacks which took place in 1982 and 1983.

When asked his identity in court, he replied: "Prisoner".

The two men were allegedly supported by East European secret services and the case is expected to cast light upon one of the darkest chapters of the Cold War.

Deadly attacks

The trial is taking place in the German capital - Weinrich has to remain in Germany as he is already serving a life sentence there for a 1983 attack on a French cultural centre, in what was then West Berlin, in which one person was killed.

The trial is being held at a high security criminal court and lawyers for the victims of the attacks say it could run for more than a year.

Carlos the Jackal
Carlos the Jackal was imprisoned in 1997

Presiding judge Ralph Ehestaedt read out the charges, as Weinrich sat behind his lawyers, separated from them by a reinforced glass screen.

The BBC's Ray Furlong in Germany says while Carlos the Jackal, whose real name is Illich Ramirez Sanchez, did the planning, Weinrich is accused of doing the dirty work, carrying out a series of lethal bomb attacks in France and Germany.

Our correspondent says the two men closely identified with the Palestinian cause and were supported by the secret services of the Eastern Bloc.

The two men lived a luxury lifestyle of five-star hotels, travelled on Syrian diplomatic passports and allegedly received one million dollars a year from Libya's Colonel Gaddafi.

Carlos himself is now being held in a French prison, having been sentenced to life in 1997 for a triple murder in Paris in 1975.

Double-blast

But it is also claimed that their attacks were driven by a love interest - after the arrest of Carlos's girlfriend, Magdalena Kopp, they sought to force her release.

Ms Kopp is also Weinrich's ex-lover and she is due to appear in court to testify against him, as will survivors of their attacks.

The bloodiest attack Weinrich is accused of being involved in was a double-bomb blast on French rail services.

The first blast occurred on a high-speed train from the southern port of Marseille to Paris in which three people were killed and 19 injured.

The second, just 20 minutes later, was at Marseille's Saint-Charles train station, and killed two people and injured 34.

It is claimed that both attacks were carried out to avenge French air strikes against Lebanon.

Along with the testimony of witnesses from the time further trial evidence will also come from the archives of the Stasi, East Germany's secret police, shedding light on how the Cold War was fought.




SEE ALSO:
Jackal to tie the knot
13 Oct 01 |  Europe
Jackal's ally gets life
17 Jan 00 |  Europe
Carlos the Jackal appeal denied
23 Jun 99 |  Europe



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