Wiesenthal Centre to French Presidential Candidates : "Reaffirm Commitment to Extradite Canadian Suspect in Copernic Synagogue Bombing"

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"Reported announcement that France wishes only to question suspect effectively nullifies extradition order, serves terrorism and betrays the victims"

Paris, 10 April, 2012

In a letter to French Presidential candidates, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist Party leader François Hollande, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre - France President, Richard Odier and its Director for International Relations Dr. Shimon Samuels, pointed out, "For over thirty-one years, every President of France has voiced his steadfast commitment to bring to justice the perpetrator of the October 1980 bombing of the Rue Copernic Synagogue of Paris."

The letter continued, "despite our doubts, for years we were told that this was an act of neo-Nazis. Three years ago, the French authorities requested the extradition from Canada of Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-Palestinian alleged member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was charged with the atrocity. Diab was later to become an Adjunct Sociology Professor at Ottawa University in Canada".

Samuels added, "Personally present at the scene at the time of the bombing, I sat in on the extradition hearing, horrified that a procedure, normally taking two days, has become a cause celebre for those intent on turning it into a lengthy trial to delegitimize the State of Israel."

The appeal noted, "Eighteen months later, the Judge, Robert Maranger, deemed that the French evidence against Diab was enough that "a reasonable jury, properly instructed, could convict." This was followed last week by an order from Canadian Federal Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, that Diab be extradited to France."

The Centre expressed outrage that the Hassan Diab Support Committee, "has now announced that 'in talks with French authorities, it came to light that France may only want to question Diab before deciding on a trial.'"

The Committee added, "Under the Canada extradition law, someone can only be extradited if there is a trial set up in advance.'"

Odier stated, "This allegation would effectively nullify the extradition order and is a total betrayal of the French commitment to this case."

The Centre called on both Presidential candidates "to publicly reaffirm their commitment once elected, to ensure closure for the forty-two wounded survivors and the four families of the dead, by taking appropriate measures to see that Hassan Diab, without further prevarication, faces a court in Paris."

"Justice delayed is justice denied and any further pretexts for postponement of this extradition serve the cause of terrorism making a mockery of the relationship between two great democracies, France and Canada," concluded Odier and Samuels.

For further information contact Dr. Shimon Samuels on 0033(0)609770158, join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).