Lebanese-Canadian academic falsely accused of 1980 bombing finally gets justice

by The Region    


Hassan Diab had already been a Canadian citizen for 15 years when officers showed up at his door to tell him that he's been accused of masterminding the 1980 Paris Synagogue bombing.

It was a vicious attack that took the lives of 4 and injured 46 Jewish worshippers, but Diab had nothing to do with it, indeed he hadn't even been in the country. In 2008, France ordered Diab's extradition, and a gruelling phase of Diab's life would begin which would eventually see him land in solitary confinement.  

France insists that the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) was responsible for the attack and that Diab was sent by its politburo to coordinate it. The PFLP, however, never claimed the attack and Hassan Diab was actually taking exams in Beirut at the time, where he was studying Sociology.

In 2011, the Canadian extradition judge overseeing Diab's case claimed the evidence was "convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect". He was certain that Diab wouldn't get a fair trial in Paris, but was obliged by the law to accept Diab's extradition to Paris. In 2014, Hassan was extradited from Canda to France, and has been in prison ever since.

For years campaigners were terrified that Diab would continue to languish in Prison on the basis of false charges. On Friday, though, Diab's case was finally thrown out and it was decided that he will be freed from custody. The French Magistrates leading the investigation into the bombing have concluded that the evidence levelled against him by the prosecutor "wasn't convincing enough."

Witnesses have corroborated Diab's version of events, that he was taking exams in Lebanon, and that he wasn't even in Paris at the times of the attack on Rue Copernic.

And Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Association of University teachers, Amnesty International France, The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and other human rights organizations have pressed on the French Government for years to address their concerns about the lack of evidence against his version of events.

Diab's handwriting didn't match the suspects, nor did his fingerprints, or facial description. Writing for Al-Jazeera, Mersiha Gadzo has written that Diab has been kept in solitary confinement for 20 hours a day. He has apparently had to deal with back pain, arthritis, nosebleeds and a variety of health problems.   

But now he will be finally freed, even though the past 9 years of his life cannot be returned to him.