OTTAWA, Canada — Canada is considering its next steps after a Paris court on Friday convicted a Lebanese-Canadian sociology professor in absentia for the 1980 bombing of a synagogue in the French capital, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Hassan Diab, now 69 and a resident of Canada, faces life in prison in France. But he and his supporters want Ottawa to reject any new requests for his extradition.
“We will look carefully at next steps, at what the French government chooses to do, at what French tribunals choose to do,” Trudeau told a news conference.
But, he added, “we will always be there to stand up for Canadians and their rights.”
Diab, speaking to reporters in Ottawa, reacted to the verdict by calling it “Kafkaesque” and “not fair.” “We’d hoped reason would prevail,” he added.
Diab also urged Trudeau to honor his past statement about the case, which appeared to pour cold water on ever sending Diab back to France, after the first extradition took six years.
“The evidence shows he’s innocent and yet they’ve convicted him,” Diab’s Canadian lawyer Donald Bayne said. “It’s a political result. It’s a wrongful conviction.”
In the early evening of October 3, 1980, explosives placed on a motorcycle detonated close to a synagogue on the Rue Copernic in Paris’s chic 16th district, killing a student passing by on a motorbike, a driver, an Israeli journalist and a caretaker.
Forty-six others were injured in the blast.
In 2014, Canada extradited Diab at the request of the French authorities on the basis of new evidence.
However, investigating judges were unable to prove him guilty conclusively and Diab was released, leaving France for Canada as a free man in 2018.
Trudeau at the time welcomed France’s release of Diab, telling reporters in June of that year: “I think for Hassan Diab we have to recognize first of all that what happened to him never should have happened.”
He also ordered a review of Canada’s extradition law to “make sure that it never happens again.”
Three years later, a French court overturned the earlier decision and ordered that Diab should stand trial on charges of murder, attempted murder and destruction of property in connection with a terrorist enterprise.
Diab has denied any involvement in the attack, claiming he was taking exams in Lebanon at the time.