Paris court sentences man to life in prison for 1980 synagogue bombing

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On Friday, a Paris court sentenced Lebanese-Canadian Hassan Diab to life in prison for the 1980 synagogue bombing that killed four people.

The court followed the prosecutor’s request for the maximum possible punishment for Diab, now 69 and a Canadian university professor.

In a roundup, prosecutors said there was “no doubt” that the sole suspect, Diab, was behind the attack.

On the evening of October 3, 1980, a motorcycle-mounted explosive detonated near the synagogue on rue Kopernik in Paris’ chic 16th arrondissement, killing students, drivers, Israeli journalists and administrators passing by on their motorcycles. a person died

46 people were injured in the explosion.

The bombing was the first deadly attack on a Jewish target inside France since World War II.

British Rabbi Michael Williams (left) on Copernicus Synagogue Street looks down on a group of police officers after the October 3, 1980 explosion. AFP – Georges Gobet

No group has claimed responsibility, but police suspect a splinter group of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

In 1999, French intelligence accused sociology professor Diab of building a 10 kg bomb.

They pointed to Diab’s likeness in an analysis of police sketches and handwriting drawn at the time and confirmed him as the suspect.

A passport bearing his name, seized in Rome in 1981, had entry and exit stamps from Spain, where the attack plot is believed to have begun.

In 2014, Canada handed over Diab at the request of French authorities.

However, the investigating judge was unable to conclusively prove his guilt during the investigation, and Diab was released and France became a free man in Canada in 2018.

Three years later, a French court reversed an earlier decision and ordered Diab to face trial for murder, attempted murder and destruction of property in connection with a terrorist enterprise.

French authorities did not go so far as to issue a new international arrest warrant for Diab, effectively leaving it up to him to attend his trial.

In 2021, Blair Rutherford, Chair and Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, where Diab teaches, writes: open letter “Despite the lack of evidence” linking Hassan to the bombing, “a French court shockingly refused to bring him to trial in France,” he said to students and teachers calling for Diab’s support. decided,” he said.

Diab’s attorney, Don Bain, said: on the website “Justice for Hassan Diab” that the evidence presented by the prosecution was inconclusive.

Arrested in November 2008, Hasan Diab appeared in court in Paris, France, on May 24, 2016 after being arrested in connection with the 1980 bombing of the synagogue on Copernicus Avenue in Paris. . AFP/Archive

His conviction on Friday means Diab is again subject to an arrest warrant, which risks fueling diplomatic tensions between France and Canada after the first extradition took six years.

David Pele, a lawyer for some of the Jewish worshipers who were in the synagogue at the time of the bombing, said his client was “neither motivated by revenge, nor was he trying to impal the guilty man’s head on a spear. No…they want justice.” end”.

(with wire) Paris court sentences man to life in prison for 1980 synagogue bombing

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