June 6, 2023

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Academic Hassan Diab was sentenced to life in prison for the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing

Police after an explosion on Rue Copernicus, Paris, on October 3, 1980 (AP Photo/Remy de la Mouviniere, file).

Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-born academic, was sentenced to life in prison for causing a violent explosion in front of a synagogue on Rue Copernicus in Paris on October 3, 1980, that killed four people and injured forty others. The trial against Diap began in Paris on April 3, after more than 42 years of one of the longest trials ever held in France. Diab is 69 years old, lives in Canada, where he is a naturalized citizen, and has refused to participate in the trial, pleading not guilty. During the trial, the defense argued that Diab was not in France on the day of the attack, but in Beirut.

In 1980, political responsibility for the attack was first attributed by the media to the neo-Nazi movement, but after a while investigations focused on another path: Palestinian terrorism. However, the first clues against Diab emerged from investigations only in 1999: several years passed before an international arrest warrant was issued, and several more years before Canada agreed to extradite him, in 2014. However, in 2018, the case was closed due to lack of retrial and Diab was able to return to Canada. In 2021 the French Supreme Court accepted a request to appeal against the closure of the case and the trial finally came. A second extradition request will follow the life sentence, but it is not easy to predict how Canadian authorities will respond.

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