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The Jackal sues to save image

world Updated: Jan 27, 2010 00:21 IST
Edward Cody
Edward Cody
Hindustan Times
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Long before Osama bin Laden, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, aka Carlos the Jackal, was the most famous terrorist of his era, bursting onto the scene with a spectacular hostage-taking of 11 OPEC oil ministers in 1975 and feeding his fame with more bloody attacks in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Ramirez, described by the spy novelist Robert Ludlum as “the most dangerous man of all times,” has been the subject of numerous books and films over the past two decades, not all of them flattering. But determined to control his image even from his Paris prison cell, he has brought suit against a French production company shooting a documentary film on his life and legend, demanding a say on the final cut.

Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, who is Ramirez’s wife and lawyer, said that Ramirez is demanding that the Film in Stock production company hand over a master copy of the documentary as soon as it is finished and grant him three months to review the content and impose changes. Anything else, she said in an interview Monday, would violate his intellectual property rights to his name and “biographical image.”

Coutant-Peyre said the documentary, being shot for France’s Canal Plus television, would likely be a propaganda film unless she and her husband were granted a right to oversee its accuracy. She charged that statements by the producers indicate they plan to portray Ramirez as the instigator of terrorist attacks for which he has not been convicted, violating his right to presumption of innocence.

The lawyer representing Film in Stock, Richard Malka, told a Paris court during a hearing on the case January 13 that no French politician would get the right to review a film depicting his life.

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