French prosecutors believe there is “sufficient evidence” to put a Lebanese-Canadian academic on trial over his alleged involvement in a bombing of a Paris synagogue.
Diab, a dual Canadian-Lebanese citizen, was extradited to France from Canada in 2014 at the request of French authorities to stand trial for his involvement in a 1980 bombing near a Synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris. He was released from prison to house arrest on May 22, 2016 under control of an electronic ankle monitor.
The umbrella organization of French Jews (CRIF) called his release “scandalous and irresponsible” and warned that the release will lead to an increase in terrorist attacks. Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, said that Diab’s arrest and subsequent extradition to France was a symbol of a triumph of justice over terror and that Diab’s release “is an insult to the victims and their families”, which will be perceived as a weak response to terror.
During the 1980 bombing, allegedly carried out by terrorists from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), four passers-by – one Israeli and three French nationals – were killed and more than 40 were injured when an explosive device attached to a parked motorcycle was detonated just as Jewish worshippers were coming out of the Synagogue. The bombing was the first major attack on a Jewish target in France since World War II.
In spite of the French authorities’ claim that Diab was a member of PFLP, he has consistently denied his involvement and maintained that at the time of the attack he was not in Paris and that any connection to the bombing must be purely coincidental, since “Hassan Diab” is a common name. Diab’s ex-wife told French investigators in April that he was in Beirut on September 28, 1980, but stamps in his passport indicate that he was already in Europe on that date.
Diab was arrested by RCMP on November 13, 2008 in response to a request by France. After spending over four and a half months in detention, Hassan was freed on bail in April, 2009 and placed under virtual house arrest. Diab was finally extradited to France in November 2014, where he was formally charged with murder, attempted murder and destruction of property as part of a terrorist enterprise by a French magistrate on the day of his arrival in Paris.