Wiesenthal Centre at Paris Copernic Synagogue Bombing Extradition Hearings

Ottawa, 10 November 2010

On 30th October 1980, a motorbike bomb exploded outside the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris, leaving four dead and 46 wounded, some grieviously.

The suspect, Hassan Diab - a Lebanese born Palestinian allegedly affiliated to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - is facing hearings on a French extradition request that he be tried before a Paris court.

Diab evaded charges for 28 years, living comfortably as an Ottawa University Sociology Professor. Arrested in 2008, attempts to extradite have been twice delayed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels - participating in the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Antisemitism - walked the six blocks from the Canadian Parliament to courtroom 34 of the Ottawa Federal Tribunal.

Amid Islamist and extreme-left supporters of Diab, Samuels went through the rigourous security examination. Once seated, he was horrified at the filibuster-style discourse of the defence counsel, dissecting the multiple English interpretations of the French subjunctive in the extradition documents. There followed ad hominem attacks on their author, the French investigating magistrate, and the legal system of France: "a foreign state that comes to Canada to deny its citizens their liberty".

The Judge has indicated that the proceedings can last for six weeks.

In an open appeal to the Canadian justice system, Samuels urged that the proceedings be focussed on the extradition and sensitive to the context, that:

- this is not a tribunal on the Palestine-Israel conflict. It concerns terrorism and all its victims - Jewish, Muslim and any other indiscriminate targets.

- French Prime Minister Raymond Barre's response to Copernic was an offensive statement that 'an attack set to strike Jews in a synagogue, hit innocent French people crossing the Rue Copernic'. The Rabbi, visiting the wounded in hospital, was told ' build your synagogues on the Paris outskirts where they will not endanger innocent Frenchmen'.

- These hearings must not become a vehicle for the glorification of a terrorism suspect and the extraterritorialization of the victims.

- France demands Diab's extradition to bring closure to the families of the Copernic victims and wounded, who have been denied justice for thirty years. If Diab's defence demonstrates his innocence, the French court is competent to guarantee his rights and will acquit him.

- Thousands of French Jews, apprehensive of resurgent antisemitism in their country of birth, have become 'new Canadians'. Their hopes will be betrayed by constant delays in extradition and a festering iconization of Diab for a political cause".

Samuels added, " we hope for a rapid resolution of this case. Simon Wiesenthal would request in cases of mass murder, the removal of the blind statue of Justice, bearing the scales that symbolize equilibrium between crime and punishment. How can there be an adequate penalty, when the perpetrator has enjoyed thirty years over the fate of his victims?".

"However, in such unresolved crimes as terror, thirty years or even seventy years later, longevity cannot be a pretext for impunity", concluded the Centre.

For further information contact Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158