Charged with a synagogue bombing in Paris, a former professor at University of Ottawa in Ontario is to be extradited to France to face charges over the 1980 crime.
Hassan Diab, a Palestine-born Canadian, was working at University of Ottawa when he was arrested in 2008. France claims that in 1980 Diab was a member of the Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine, a terrorist organization that set off a bomb outside the Union Libérale Israélite de France synagogue on October 3, 1980, killing 4 and injuring 40. Diab has been fighting his prosecution and extradition to France ever since.
The French prosecution’s case hinges on four specific pieces of evidence: that Mr. Diab resembles police sketches of the bomber; that his handwriting matches that of the bomber (as compared to a sample thought to have been left by the bomber in France); that he was identified by intelligence sources and former friends as having been a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and that his passport was used to get into France around the time of the 1980 bombing, in “suspicious circumstances.”
However, Mr Diab vehemently protests the charges and says he is completely unfamiliar with these crimes. He says he was a student in Beirut at the time of the bombing and had nothing to do with PFLP. His lawyers are also strongly objecting to the handwriting evidence, stating that their experts have examined the documents and find no correlation between Diab’s writing and that of the bomber. An Ottawa judge agreed and said that the handwriting evidence was “‘very problematic,’ ‘very confusing,’ and riddled with ‘suspect conclusions’.” However, Canadian law does not allow the judge to disregard the French evidence. In addition, Diab’s lawyers had some of the evidence against Diab thrown out, challenging the prosecution to prove that it had not been extracted under torture.
Diab also stated he had been subjected to harassment prior to his 2008 arrest, forcing him to take a second apartment in an adjacent city in Quebec in order to attempt to avoid being followed.
A judge upheld the order for extradition this morning, calling the evidence against Diab “weak” but adding that that he must expect France to provide Diab with a fair trial.
Diab is now expected to appeal the extradition – a process that could take more than a year.
Photo from: The.Comedian on flickr