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Man sentenced to life in prison in Paris for bombing a synagogue in 1980
Man sentenced to life in prison in Paris for bombing a synagogue in 1980

Paris: Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-Canadian citizen, was given a life sentence in prison on Friday by a Paris court in absentia for the 1980 bombing of a synagogue that left four people dead.

The court granted the prosecution's request for the harshest penalty against Diab, a 69-year-old Canadian university professor.
In their summary, prosecutors had stated that there was "no possible doubt" that Diab, the only suspect, was responsible for the attack.

On October 3, 1980, early in the evening, bombs hidden on a motorbike exploded close to a synagogue in the posh 16th district of Paris, killing a student riding by on a motorbike, the driver, an Israeli journalist, and a caretaker.

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The explosion injured 46 people. Since World War II, this was the first fatal bombing attempt on a Jewish target in France. Police suspect a splinter group of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, though no group has ever claimed responsibility.

The 10-kilogram (22-pound) bomb was allegedly made by sociology professor Diab, according to French intelligence in 1999. They cited handwriting analyses and police sketches from the time that resembled Diab, claiming that these evidence supported his status as a suspect.

A passport in his name that was seized in Rome in 1981 and had entry and exit stamps from Spain, where the attack plan was thought to have originated, was also produced as important evidence against him.

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2014 saw the extradition of Diab from Canada to France at their request. Investigators were unable to establish Diab's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so in 2018, Diab was free to travel from France to Canada.

Three years later, a French court reversed the earlier ruling and mandated that Diab be tried for murder, attempted murder, and property destruction as part of a terrorist enterprise. French authorities refrained from issuing a fresh international arrest warrant for Diab, letting him decide whether to appear in court or not.

Given that his first extradition took six years, Diab's conviction means that he is once again the target of an arrest warrant, which could exacerbate diplomatic tensions between France and Canada.

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Jewish worshippers who were in the synagogue at the time of the bombing were represented by David Pere, who claimed that his clients were "not motivated by vengeance nor looking for a guilty person's head to stick on a pike... they want justice to be done."

 

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