Mon, Nov 17, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Publication ban put on bombing case in Canada

AP , OTTAWA

A publication ban has been ordered for the extradition hearing for an Ottawa university professor arrested in a bombing that killed four and injured 20 at a Paris synagogue in 1980.

The ban, along with a separate court order sealing evidence in the case against Hassan Diab, means the public is unlikely to learn what led to Diab’s sudden arrest this week until after his extradition hearing ends.

But Diab’s lawyer, who concurred with the ban, took time before the first hearing in the case to reiterate claims his client is an innocent victim of mistaken identity and was not in France when the explosion killed three French men and an Israeli woman.

“It’s mistaken identity, that’s for sure,” lawyer Rene Duval said on Friday. “He wasn’t in France for sure. He was probably, at the time this happened, still studying at the University of Lebanon.”

Ontario Superior Court Justice Michel Charbonneau imposed the ban and adjourned the extradition hearing until Thursday.

Diab, 55, is said to hold Lebanese and Canadian passports and to have lived in the US for several years before moving to Canada. He teaches part time at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University and was arrested at his home in Gatineau, Quebec, near Ottawa.

Diab was escorted into the courtroom on Friday by two uniformed Royal Canadian Mounted Police tactical squad officers wearing bulletproof vests and shatterproof eye wear.

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 reformist Union Liberale Israelite de France as hundreds of worshippers were gathered inside for a Sabbath service.

About 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.

A French magistrate reactivated an investigation into the cold case last year, when German authorities discovered the old membership list for the now-defunct terrorist group.

Duval, who described himself as a criminal lawyer and a human rights lawyer, represented Diab last year when his name first came up in the renewed investigation. He responded with emotion when asked if he knew why the investigation had been revived following a French newspaper leak last year.

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