Accused Paris synagogue bomber fights extradition

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A Lebanese-Canadian national accused of bombing a Paris synagogue, killing four people and injuring dozens in 1980, on Monday asked a Canadian court to halt extradition proceedings against him.

Speaking through his lawyer at the start of his extradition hearing Hassan Diab said the evidence presented against him by French authorities relied on "secret, unsourced intelligence."

He likened his situation to fellow Canadian Maher Arar who in 2002 was transferred by US officials to Syria, where he was imprisoned and allegedly tortured, based on false intelligence.

"I am innocent of the charges against me," Diab said in a statement. "I hope this extradition hearing will end the witch-hunt atmosphere I have been living under for the past three years."

The 56-year-old former professor was arrested in November 2008 at his home in an Ottawa suburb at the request of French authorities who want him extradited to face charges of murder, attempted murder and willful destruction of property.

He was released on strict bail conditions in 2009.

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 tony 16th arrondissement of Paris on October 3, 1980.

The explosion killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman. Dozens were injured.

It was the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation of World War II.

© 2010 AFP

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