Canadian accused of 1980 Paris synagogue bombing lands in France
France Paris, Nov 15 (AFP): A Canadian academic accused of the deadly 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue arrived in France today after losing his six-year legal battle against extradition to face charges for the notorious attack.
University professor Hassan Diab, a Canadian of Lebanese descent, was due to face an anti-terror judge later today in Paris after arriving in the French capital from Montreal.
The October 3, 1980, bombing of a synagogue on rue Copernic in Paris killed four people and marked the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II.
The 60-year-old sociologist had been fighting his extradition to avoid what he said would be an unfair prosecution in France for a crime he insists he did not commit.
If convicted, he could face up to life in prison. Diab’s extradition came after Canada’s supreme court refused on Thursday to hear his final plea to halt the procedure.
Diab was arrested at his home in an Ottawa suburb in November 2008 at the request of French authorities who alleged he was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The extremist group pioneered armed jetliner hijackings in the 1960s and was believed to be behind a string of deadly attacks in Europe, including the Paris bombing.
Canada’s justice minister signed an order in April 2012 to send Diab to France after a Canadian court approved his extradition, despite its concerns that the French case was “weak”.
Diab has said he has “absolutely no connection whatsoever to the terrible 1980 attack,” while his legal team argued he should not be extradited because a conviction in Canada would be unlikely.
That attack on the synagogue happened on a Friday evening, the eve of the Jewish sabbath when it was packed with some 300 worshippers.
Ten kilogrammes of explosives packed in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle were detonated and the ensuing blast killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman and wounded some 40 people.
Police first focused on the far right as possible perpetrators of the bombing before turning their attention to extremist groups in the Middle East, but made no headway in the case for years.
The probe was relaunched in October 2007 to gain information from the United States on Diab, who had spent several years in the country.