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Canadian Suspect in Paris Synagogue Bombing Is Found Guilty

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Forty-three years ago, a bomb exploded outside a synagogue in Paris, killing four people and fainting in France. It drove large crowds to protest against anti-Semitism and exposed the country to violence that was thought to have died out with the end of World War II.

After decades of false leads, lack of evidence and legal disputes, the verdict was finally delivered on Friday. He was convicted of related murder, attempted murder, and aggravated destruction. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Carol Ancona, a French woman who was in the synagogue when the atomic bomb exploded, said she was satisfied with the court’s ruling, saying “the time has come.” “It’s never too late to do the right thing,” she said.

The judge also issued an arrest warrant for Diab, who lives in Canada and was tried in absentia. Diab has long denied his involvement in the attacks. A previous investigation into the bombing dropped charges against him.

Donald J. Pratt, spokesman for Canada’s Hassan Diab Support Committee, lamented the “extremely disappointing decision”. Diab was tried in absentia and cannot appeal the verdict. Pratt said his only option was to “fight extradition” to France.

On October 3, 1980, the first deadly attack on the Jewish community in France since World War II took place on rue Kopernik in the upmarket district of western Paris.

Explosives placed on motorcycles parked outside the synagogue, where more than 300 worshipers had gathered to celebrate the Sabbath, detonated early in the evening. The blast collapsed the synagogue’s glass roof, blew out windows in nearby buildings, and overturned cars.

Four people were killed in the street when the bomb exploded – an Israeli journalist, a student passing by on a motorbike, a driver and a janitor. Investigators said explosives were set to detonate as worshipers left the synagogue after prayers had ended. was the only person

The attack shocked France and prompted tens of thousands of people to take to the streets in solidarity marches. Neo-Nazi groups were quickly accused of being behind the bombings and newspapers began discussing a possible revival of fascism, said recently published French journalist Clément Weil Raynal.Rue Copernic: Sabotaged Investigation

But weeks later, police denied the neo-Nazi views and instead pointed to a splinter group of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an armed group that supports the Palestinian state. “The pace of the investigation was slow,” he said, as it was largely unknown and unconsidered.

It doesn’t help that Raymond Barré, then prime minister of France, said the attack “tried to target the Jews” who went to the synagogue, but ended up killing “innocent Frenchmen”. I didn’t. The remarks were widely criticized for containing anti-Semitic overtones, and Barré never explicitly apologized.

In 1999, after years of making no noticeable progress, French authorities identified Mr. Diab as a suspect using analysis of police sketches and handwriting. Investigators also presented a passport in his name stamped with entry and exit from Spain, where the perpetrator is believed to have fled.

French police officer Louis Caprioli, who was involved in the incident, told a court earlier this month that he was “convinced that Hassan Diab was the bomber”.

But by the time he was indicted, Diab, who had grown up in Lebanon, had moved to Canada, where he was teaching sociology after completing his doctorate. He is from Syracuse University. At the request of France, Canadian police arrested him in 2008, waiting another six years for extradition.

Diab was held in pretrial detention in France for more than three years, but the judge who conducted the investigation dropped the charges on the grounds that the evidence was too weak.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that Hassan Diab was the bomber, but it’s hard to say beyond that,” then-investigating judge Jean-Marc Herbault told the court last week.

Diab was released from prison in 2018 and immediately left for Canada. But three years later, a French court unexpectedly overturned the ruling and ordered Diab to go to trial.

This time, French authorities said they would not issue an international arrest warrant and Diab would not appear at trial.

It is supported by many groups including Amnesty Internationalhe had long maintained his innocence, saying he was studying in Beirut at the time of the attack and was a victim of a false identity. urged to avoid

For the atomic bomb victims and their families, the trial was a source of relief, whatever its outcome.

Bernard Cahen, an attorney for many of the plaintiffs, said at the start of the trial, “It’s good to see that justice still exists after 43 years.” It’s the end of the ordeal,” he added.

Unlike victims of more recent terrorist attacks, survivors of the 1980 bombings and their relatives received little or no financial or psychological support from the state.

One of the survivors, Ancona, said she and other victims grew up with the trauma of the attack. “We forget nothing and move forward,” she said.

“Victims and their families may find some satisfaction with the court’s decision,” said Pratt of Canada’s Hassan Diab Support Committee. However, “I have to say they are not getting justice today because Hassan is innocent,” he added.

Given the complexity of the case, it was not clear whether Canada would voluntarily extradite Diab or deny an extradition request. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau show support For Mr. Diab who returned in 2018.

Trudeau spoke of the ruling on Friday, but did not say how Canada would react to a possible extradition request from France.

“We will be watching carefully what the next steps, what the French government chooses, what the French courts choose,” Trudeau said. said at a press conference“But we will always be there to defend Canadians and their rights.”

Mr. Cahen, an attorney for the plaintiffs, recently took a pessimistic view. interview with French Jewish groups. “Make no mistake, Mr. Diab will not be extradited from Canada,” he said.

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