Accused Paris Synagogue bomber likely to face June extradition hearing

| February 9, 2010

OTTAWA — A Canadian court on Monday set a tentative June extradition hearing for Canadian-Lebanese national Hassan Diab, arrested 15 months ago for his alleged role in a 1980 Paris bombing that killed four.

The Ontario Superior Court will firm the dates on Friday after lawyers verify that witnesses will be available for three-week hearing.

The Crown sought more time to allow France to gather new evidence. "The investigation into this matter continues in France and elsewhere," prosecutor Claude LeFrançois told the court.

But Judge Michel Charbonneau sided with the defense, saying: "We have a Canadian citizen under strict bail conditions waiting around to see what happens. I don't want to see that happen."

"I want to get this thing going," he said.

Diab, who was arrested in November 2008 in a suburb of Canada's capital at the request of French authorities who want him extradited to face charges of murder, attempted murder and willful destruction of property, has been under strict bail conditions for almost a year.

These include wearing an electronic monitoring anklet, for which he previously agreed to bear the 2,500-dollar monthly cost.

Defense lawyer Donald Bayne accused France of "dilatory conduct" in seeking a third adjournment in the case since December.

"That's simply not reasonable due diligence," Bayne said. "Does France have a greater status than a Canadian citizen in Canadian law? In November, France said, 'We are ready, we've considered our case for 29 years.'"

French authorities were also given until March 29 to present new evidence.

Thereafter, the judge said he "may not be receptive" to the introduction of new evidence, but noted France might avoid his deadline by refiling their extradition request and starting over from scratch.

In October 1980, a bomb planted in a motorcycle saddlebag outside the Copernic Street synagogue in the tony 16th arrondissement killed three Frenchmen and a young Israeli woman, and injured dozens.

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

French authorities issued a warrant in November 2007 for Diab's arrest, following a lead from German intelligence. But Diab claimed at the time he was a victim of mistaken identity and denied any links to extremist organizations.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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