Mérida, November 9th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – President Hugo Chavez said on Monday that the Venezuelan state can’t “permit that any Venezuelan is abused, be they accused of anything, in any part of the world” in reference to the imprisonment, torture, and trial of Ilich Ramirez (also referred to by Western media as Carlos the Jackal) in France.
Ramirez, a Venezuelan born pro- Palestinian fighter, is on his second trial in France for supposedly orchestrating four bombings there in 1982 and 1983 which killed 11 people and injured more than 100. The trail began on Monday.
Ramirez is already serving a life sentence in France for the murder of two French police officers and a Lebanese informant in 1975.
Chavez clarified that he wasn’t going to declare his opinion on the facts of the case but also said that Ramirez is a “combatant…for the Palestinian cause… taking the risk that they [the media and imperialist countries] will say whatever about me, it doesn’t matter, from those places [imperialist countries] where hypocrisy reigns, one can say that, independently of what they are accusing [Ramirez] of… he [fought] for the biggest of struggles”.
“Regardless of who he is, he’s a Venezuelan and as the state we have obligations towards any Venezuelan anywhere in the world who is subject to any difficulty or process,” Chavez said.
He instructed foreign minister Nicolas Maduro to “take on the responsibility that corresponds to us as the Venezuelan government”.
According to EFE, two members of the Venezuelan embassy in France were present in the court hearing today, as requested by Ramirez. Vladimir Ramirez, Ilich’s brother, publically thanked Chavez for his support, saying that it “effectively” came just as Ramirez’s team was handing over a demand for action and defence of his rights to the Venezuelan embassy.
Vladimir Ramirez also told Telesur that his brother had been subject to abuse while in the French prison, and described how “just this year” he was “beaten, transferred, semi naked, to… another prison… transferred many times in a metal box…it’s a perverse system of physical and psychological torture.”
When questioned today in his trial about Chavez, Ilich Ramirez said, “I didn’t think he was going to be elected or that the [U.S] would let him in”, AFP reported. Ramirez said Chavez was a “man of the people” and “100% Venezuelan”.
French foreign minister Claude Gueant said today in reaction to Chavez’s declarations that “France is treating [Ramirez] according to its laws.”
In Caracas on Monday afternoon hundreds marched in support of Ramirez, saying he was kidnapped by France and demanding he be repatriated to Venezuela. The march was called for by the Venezuelan Communist Party.
This year some Venezuelan and international movements have criticised Chavez for deporting revolutionaries to Colombia. In May this year Venezuelan authorities arrested protest singer and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member Julian Conrado. They said he would be deported to Colombia, though he is currently still in prison in Venezuela.
Further, a month before, the Venezuelan government detained and deported independent media activist Joaquin Perez Becerra to Colombia, though he had political asylum in Sweden.
At the time, Chavez justified the measures saying it was important that Venezuela comply with international law.
Who is Ilich Ramirez
Born in 1949 in Tachira state, Venezuela, Ramirez’s father, who was a Marxist lawyer, named him after Vladimir Lenin. Ramirez joined the youth wing of the Venezuelan Communist Party in 1959. His father enrolled him in the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, from which he was expelled, and from there he travelled to Lebanon where he volunteered for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Ramirez was kidnapped in Sudan in 1994, flown to France and found guilty at the trial, which was held in December 1997. Ramirez denied the killings, accusing the Israeli secret service of being behind them. He was given a life sentence.
“He was captured in Sudan, where he was living, in an operation that violated international law. He was kidnapped. It wasn’t that France requested his extradition, [it was] like what happened here with [ex Farc member] Rodrigo Granda in 2004.” Chavez said.
According to Venezuelan legislators, Colombian authorities bribed Venezuelan police to kidnap Granda in Caracas. Colombia then sent Granda to Colombia without requesting an extradition of the Venezuelan government.
Ramirez published a book, ‘Revolutionary Islam’ in 2003. In 2005 he complained to the European Court of Human Rights that his years of solitary confinement were “inhuman and degrading”. The court rejected the claim.
In May 2007 Judge Jean-Louis Brugiere ordered a new trial, charging Ramirez with “killings and destruction of property using explosive substances” in France in 1982 and 1983. Ramirez has denied any connection to the events and staged a nine-day hunger strike to protest his imprisonment conditions.