Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, known as "Carlos the Jackal", is surrounded by French gendarmes as he leaves a Paris courthouse in March 2014.
The Jackal became one of the world's most wanted fugitives after an operation in which he took OPEC oil ministers hostage in the name of the Palestinian struggle. Three judges will preside over the trial for the Drugstore Publicis attack which was located in Saint-Germain-des-Prés.
Already serving two life sentences for a series of murders he committed in France on behalf of the Palestinian cause, the Venezuelan-born terrorist known as "Carlos the Jackal" is on trial for another deadly attack.
The grenade attack case was initially dismissed due to lack of evidence, but was later reopened following his 1994 arrest in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
The press gave him his nickname after a reporter saw a copy of Frederick Forsyth's "The Day of the Jackal" at Ramirez's London flat and mistakenly assumed it belonged to him.
"Today's trial concerns the launching of a hand grenade in a Paris shopping mall in 1974 that killed two people and injured dozens", NPRs Eleanor Beardsley reports.
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The lawyer representing the two widows of the dead men and others affected by the bomb blast said they were eager to see justice meted out. "Their wounds have never healed", he said. The infamous world terrorist pleaded not guilty and his lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, said the trial was a waste of time and money.
He was also found guilty of four bombings in Paris and Marseille in 1982 and 1983, some targeting trains, which killed a total of 11 people and injured almost 150.
The prosecution said a grenade used in the attack was from the same batch used in a hostage-taking at the French embassy in The Hague and another was found at the Paris home of Carlos' mistress.
Ramirez Sanchez faces charges including "murders carried out with a terrorist organization".
"What exactly is the point of having a trial so long after the events?" she told the Paris court.
An Arab language news magazine in France, Al Watan Al Arabi, published a long interview with a man it identified as Carlos five years after the attack. "Democracy has two principal enemies - totalitarianism, and terrorism", he said, suggesting that Carlos is among "those who threaten democracy by their actions".