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Canadian court OKs extradition of Paris bombing suspect

TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian court has ruled that a suspect in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue may be extradited to France.

Hassan Diab, a 57-year-old Canadian of Lebanese descent, was arrested in Ottawa in 2008 in response to a request from France, where he is wanted on charges of murder, attempted murder and destruction of property in the Oct. 3, 1980 bombing.

The bomb exploded outside the Rue Copernic Synagogue during a Shabbat service, killing three French men and one Israeli woman. Dozens were injured.

Though Diab must be surrendered under Canadian law, the Canadian court also found that France had presented "a weak case" that makes the prospect of his conviction "unlikely."

Stamps in Diab’s 1980 passport indicated that he was not in France at the time of the bombing, The Associated Press reported. But his handwriting allegedly appears on a hotel registration card — evidence his lawyers have vigorously disputed.

French analysts compared his handwriting with that on the registration card, but three French handwriting experts testified that the analysis was flawed and did not match Diab’s.

The appeals process could delay the extradition of Diab, a one-time sociology professor at Ottawa’s Carleton University, for years.

"We are gratified that authorities in France and Canada pursued this case even 30 years after the murderous attack on the synagogue in Rue Copernic," Canadian Jewish Congress President Mark Freiman said after the ruling.

"This sends an important message — that diligent, committed authorities will never cease in their pursuit of justice against possible perpetrators of terrorism and in support of victims of terrorist acts."

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