43 years later, suspect in Paris synagogue bombing goes on trial in absentia

A Lebanese-Canadian academic who is the lone suspect in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue went on trial in absentia, nearly 43 years after four people were killed and 46 wounded in the unclaimed attack.

French authorities identified Hassan Diab as a suspect in 1999. They accuse him of planting the bomb on the evening of October 3, 1980, outside the synagogue where 320 worshipers had gathered to mark the end of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

Diab, 69, has denied involvement in the attack and said he was at a university in Beirut at the time of the western Paris bombing. His supporters and lawyers in France and Canada claim Diab has been wrongly pursued by French judicial authorities and is a victim of mistaken identit

people on October 3, 1980. (Remy de la Mauviniere/AP)

PARIS, France — A Lebanese-Canadian academic who is the lone suspect in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue went on trial in absentia Monday, nearly 43 years after four people were killed and 46 wounded in the unclaimed attack.

French authorities identified Hassan Diab as a suspect in 1999. They accuse him of planting the bomb on the evening of October 3, 1980, outside the synagogue where 320 worshipers had gathered to mark the end of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

Diab, 69, has denied involvement in the attack and said he was at a university in Beirut at the time of the western Paris bombing. His supporters and lawyers in France and Canada claim Diab has been wrongly pursued by French judicial authorities and is a victim of mistaken identity.State of Jerusalem: The ‘Secular’ StrugglePauseUnmuteLoaded: 17.21% Picture-in-PictureFullscreenClose

French investigators attributed the synagogue attack to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations, a Palestinian terror group. Canada authorized Diab’s extradition to France at the end of 2014. He spent three years in pretrial detention but anti-terrorism judges then ordered him freed from French custody due to a lack of evidence, and he returned to Canada.

France’s court of appeal ruled in January 2021 that Diab must stand trial on terrorism-related charges. If convicted, he could receive a life sentence. A verdict is expected by April 21. He lives in Ottawa.

Survivors of the attack and victims’ families attended the first day of proceedings in Paris. Prosecutor Benjamin Chambre said that Diab’s absence is proof of “great cowardice in his behavior.”

“It’s a grave abomination for justice and for the victims 43 years after the events,” Chambre added.

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