January 12, 2018 10:52 am
Updated: January 12, 2018 11:05 am

Hassan Diab, former Canadian professor, freed after French courts drop terror accusations

Hassan Diab, the Ottawa professor who has been ordered extradited to France by the Canadian government, speaks at a press conference while his lawyer, Donald Bayne, listens on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, April 13, 2012.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Patrick Doyle
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Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-Canadian academic accused over the deadly 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue is to be freed from custody after the case was dismissed for lack of evidence, legal sources said Friday.

In a decision seen by AFP, the French magistrates leading the investigation said the evidence against Hassan Diab, who was extradited from Canada in 2014, was “not convincing enough” and ordered his immediate release.

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READ MORE: Former Ottawa sociology prof. charged in 1980 Paris synagogue bombing

The Oct. 3, 1980, bombing of a synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris killed four people and injured about 40.

It was the first fatal attack against France’s Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Diab, a former professor of sociology at Ottawa University, fought his extradition to France to avoid what he said would be an unfair prosecution for a crime he did not commit.

The Ontario Court of Appeal in 2014 upheld a lower court ruling supporting the decision of the federal justice minister at the time to allow for his extradition to France, and the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

His lawyer said in a statement on Friday morning that they are pleased at the decision.

“We’re elated, relieved and thankful,” said Don Bayne, who represents Diab in Canada. “Thankful to the French judges for their wisdom and courage to buck political and social pressure to make a completely just decision, something that we believe the courts in Canada failed to do at every level

Bayne had argued during the fight against the extradition that the reliance of French authorities on secret information jeopardized his chances of procedural fairness and raised questions about the constitutionality of legal proceedings against Diab.

WATCH ABOVE: Diab’s lawyer: “They use secret intelligence as if its evidence and give it credit”

Diab was arrested at his home in an Ottawa suburb in November 2008 at the request of French authorities who alleged he was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Evidence against Diab presented by prosecutors included a sketch of the bomber which resembles Diab and the discovery of a passport in his name with entry and exit stamps from Spain, where the bomber is believed to have fled.

READ MORE: Appeal court upholds decision to extradite terror suspect Hassan Diab

There were also testimonies from witnesses that Diab was a member of the PFLP in the early 1980s.

Diab has insisted that he was in Beirut at the time of the attack to take university exams, which witnesses have corroborated.

With files from Global News.

© 2018 AFP Forum

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