Sat, Nov 15, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Canadian mounties arrest suspect in 1980 Paris bombing


Canadian police on Thursday arrested the main suspect in the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris that killed four people and injured 20 others, officials said.

Hassan Diab was taken into custody on a provisional extradition warrant issued at the request of French authorities, Canadian Justice Department spokesman Christian Girouard said.

Diab was being held pending a bail hearing yesterday.

Girouard said that, under Canadian law, French officials will have 45 days to provide further legal details to back up their extradition request.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Jean Hainey said the man was detained at his residence in Gatineau, Quebec — across the river from Ottawa.

Diab, a part-time sociology instructor at the University of Ottawa, was first named in French news reports last month. He said at the time he was a victim of mistaken identity.

Defense lawyer Rene Duval said his client was shocked by the arrest.

“This is someone who has no criminal record whatsoever,” said Duval, who claims Diab did not enter France in 1980. “It’s a mistaken identification.”

Michele Alliot-Marie, France’s interior minister, welcomed the arrest. In a statement, she credited the “excellent cooperation” between French police and intelligence services and Canadian authorities, but did not provide further details on the suspect.

Diab, a 55-year-old of Palestinian origin, has Lebanese and Canadian passports and lived in the US for several years before moving to Canada, a French judicial official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with judicial policy.

Diab said in an interview with the French daily Le Figaro last month that he was a victim of mistaken identity and had nothing to do with the attack.

Anti-terrorist judges Marc Trevidic and Yves Jannier traveled to Canada at the beginning of the week to further their inquiry into the bombing, the judicial official said. Investigators were searching Diab’s home and office for clues including DNA samples.

On Oct. 3, 1980, a bomb containing pentrite — one of the most powerful high explosives known — and hidden in the saddlebags of a parked motorcycle exploded outside the synagogue of the conservative ULIF group as hundreds of worshippers were gathered inside for a Sabbath service.

Three French men and one Israeli woman were killed. Around 200,000 people later marched through the streets of Paris to protest the attack.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations was blamed at the time. Diab’s name was on a list of former members of the Palestinian extremist group obtained by German intelligence officials.

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