VANCOUVER - The man who was considered for 37 years by Israeli and French intelligence agencies to be the mastermind behind a deadly terror bombing of a Paris synagogue has been released from prison by French authorities.
Until 2008, Hassan Diab, a Beirut-born Canadian, managed to convince the Canadian government that he had nothing to do with the October 1980 bombing of the French Israeli Liberal Union Synagogue on Rue Copernic during the Jewish festival of Simchat Torah, which claimed the life of 42-year-old Israeli Aliza Shagrir, along with two French citizens, and wounded scores.
Diab, 64, who was a lecturer at the University of Ottawa, was eventually arrested in 2008 in Canada and extradited to France in November 2014 by the presiding judge, who expressed his concerns over the veracity of the evidence against Diab.
It was, the judge said “convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect.”
Since his extradition, Diab has been kept in a protected prison on the outskirts of Paris, and has consistently professed his innocence, claiming he was not even in the city at the time of the bombing, but was in the University of Beirut where he was studying.
Investigators believe the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was behind the attack. The French state prosecutor, meanwhile, said Diab’s passport was found in the hands of PFLP members arrested in Italy three days after the attack.
Following their arrests, and in light of evidence taken from the scene, both Israeli and French intelligence marked Diab as a prime suspect.
At the end of last week however, following a discussion attended by two investigative justices from the French Supreme Court, the court determined the evidence against Diab was too weak and too scant to justify his arraignment and continued incarceration.
Diab was subsequently released, and the decision was immediately appealed by the French state prosecutor.