Paris
ParisReuters

A Paris court on Friday convicted a Lebanese-Canadian academic in absentia on terrorism charges and sentenced him to life in prison over a bombing outside a Paris synagogue in 1980 that killed four and wounded 46, The Associated Press reported.

The court issued an arrest warrant for suspect Hassan Diab, who lives in the Canadian capital of Ottawa and denies wrongdoing. His lawyers say he was in Lebanon at the time of the attack and is a victim of mistaken identity.

French authorities accuse Diab of planting the bomb outside the synagogue where 320 worshipers had gathered to mark the end of a Jewish holiday on the evening of October 3, 1980, including children celebrating their bar mitzvahs.

Among the four who were murdered was Aliza Shagrir, an Israeli TV presenter who was on holiday in Paris and who walking on the pavement outside.

French investigators attributed the synagogue attack to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, though no one ever claimed responsibility.

Diab was first named as a suspect in 1999. In December 2017, French prosecutors called for the Lebanese-Canadian academic to be put on trial. France’s appellate court ruled in January 2021 that Diab should be tried on terrorism charges in court.

The trial began earlier this month. The conviction was a surprise to many even in the court. Among the defense witnesses was a magistrate who investigated the case and testified that there was not enough evidence to convict Diab, according to AP.

The head of France’s leading Jewish group, CRIF, welcomed the conviction, and urged Canada to arrest Diab. The victims’ attorneys say the long-awaited trial will serve as deterrent for future terrorist acts and antisemitic sentiments.

Diab’s extradition from Canada to France was given the go-ahead in 2014. But after being in pretrial detention for three years, French judges ordered his release due to lack of evidence and he went back to Canada.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)