Diab must stand trial in 1980 synagogue bombing, French court rules

Hassan Diab

A French court has ruled that Hassan Diab, an Ottawa professor, must stand trial in connection with the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris.

It’s the latest round of a years-old legal saga.

Diab, a Lebanese-born sociology professor at Carleton University, was arrested by the RCMP in 2008 at the request of France, which suspected him of involvement in the bombing of the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris, which killed four and wounded 46 people.

Israel and other Western countries believe that operatives of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were responsible for the attack.

Diab, who has denied the accusation, was jailed in Canada for more than four months, then held under house arrest. He was extradited to France in 2014, despite evidence a judge called “weak, convoluted and confusing.”

He spent three years in pretrial detention, much of it in solitary confinement, before the charges were dismissed and Diab was released in January 2018.

French judges dismissed a key piece of evidence—handwriting analysis—as unreliable. Diab returned to Canada, joining his wife and children.

His release without trial was denounced by CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, as “an insult to the memory of the victims and (which) adds to their relatives’ pain.”

But the finding to release him was overturned by France’s court of appeal. On May 19, the country’s highest court, the Cour de Cassation, rejected Diab’s appeal of that decision.

Diab, now 67, and his supporters have argued that he was in Beirut when the attack took place, and that his fingerprints and physical description did not match those of the suspect in 1980.

The Canadian government is communicating with officials in France about the case, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news briefing in March.

“It has been a priority for us to make sure that we’re standing up for our citizens all around the world, with countries that are challenging, but also with our allies,” he said. “And those conversations will continue.”

Diab’s lawyer is asking Trudeau to “put an end to this miscarriage of justice.”

The best is yet to come.

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