A Canadian judge has ruled that Lebanese-born Canadian citizen Hassan Diab must be extradited to France to face charges of attempted murder for a terror attack. The 57-year-old former sociology professor claims the accusations by the French government that he was involved in the October 3, 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue are a case of mistaken identity.
Prosecutors allege that Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who helped arrange the attack. The alleged terrorist planted a bomb in a motorcycle backpack parked outside the Copernic Street Synagogue, where it exploded, killing three French men and one Israeli woman. Dozens of others were wounded in the blast.
Handwriting analyst Anne Biscotti identified similarities between samples of Diab's writing and five words written on a registration card from a nearby hotel written shortly before the attack. Although weak, the handwriting analysis presented enough of a link that Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger said he had to rule in favor of extradition.
“Canada signed an extradition treaty with the Republic of France, who suspect the Mr. Diab is responsible for a heinous crime,” the judge said. “It is presupposed, based on our treaty with France, that they will conduct a fair trial, and that justice will be done.”
Defense attorney Donald Bayne, said that he would appeal the ruling. Diab, who was given 30 days to plead his case in writing to Canada's justice minister, was taken into custody immediately following the hearing. He issued a videotaped message saying the he had nothing to do with the bombing and that he was not in France at the time of the “hateful” bombing. “I very strongly condemn the attack,” he said.
If convicted in the case, Diab could face life in prison.