Canada court rules to extradite accused Paris bomber

6th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Canadian court ruled Monday that a man accused of a 1980 bombing that killed four people outside a Paris synagogue can be extradited to France, but warned the French government's case was "weak."

French prosecutors want Hassan Diab to face charges of murder, attempted murder and willful destruction of property, for the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

If convicted of the bombing, Diab could face life in prison, but the lawyer for the Canadian-Lebanese has indicated he would appeal the ruling.

Diab was arrested in a suburb of Canada's capital at the request of French authorities in November 2008 for his alleged role in the bombing that killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman, and injured dozens.

Speaking through his lawyer at the start of his extradition hearing in November 2010, Diab said the evidence presented against him by French authorities relied on "secret, un-sourced intelligence."

French analysts compared his handwriting with that found on a Paris hotel registration card believed to have been signed by the bomber, but three handwriting experts testified the analysis was flawed and did not match Diab's.

"The judge has signaled that he is likely to rule in favor of committal because Canada's extradition law does not allow him to discard the handwriting evidence, even though he described it as 'very problematic,' 'very confusing,' and riddled with 'suspect conclusions,'" Diab's supporters said in a statement last week before the hearing.

France alleges Diab was a member of a Palestinian extremist group believed to have planted a bomb in a motorcycle saddlebag outside the Copernic Street synagogue in the posh 16th arrondissement of Paris on October 3, 1980.

French authorities issued a warrant in November 2007 for Diab's arrest, following a lead from German intelligence. Investigators also say Diab resembles police composites of a suspect sketched at the time.

Diab claims he is the victim of mistaken identity and insists he was a student in Beirut at the time. He also denied any links to extremist organizations.

The 57-year-old former sociology professor was released on strict bail conditions in 2009 while awaiting the court's decision on his extradition.

© 2011 AFP

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