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Paris synagogue bombing suspect sues Canada over extradition

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Ottawa (AFP)

A Lebanese-Canadian academic once accused of a Paris bombing in 1980 on Monday sued the Canadian government for having extradited him to France to face a failed prosecution.

Hassan Diab, 66, was extradited to France in 2014, but then released in 2018 after French magistrates ruled evidence against him was "not convincing enough" to hold him.

He spent a total of nine years either in jail or under strict bail conditions in the two countries, awaiting trial.

According to court documents, he is seeking Can$90 million (US$69 million) from Ottawa, alleging negligence, malicious prosecution, deceit and abuse of process.

Diab has always denied involvement in the bombing, saying he was taking exams in Beirut at the time.

A former professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa, he was accused of planting explosives inside the saddle bag of a motorbike parked outside a packed synagogue close to the Champs-Elysees, where hundreds of people had gathered for Sabbath prayers.

The 1980 bombing on the narrow Copernic Street was the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II.

Evidence presented against Diab included a sketch of the bomber which resembles him and the discovery of a passport in his name with entry and exit stamps from Spain, where the bomber is believed to have fled.

There were also testimonies from witnesses that Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) at the time of the bombing.

But handwriting analysis carried out on five words left on a hotel registration form was challenged by defense lawyers.

A form was filled out in the name of Alexander Panadriyu who, investigators believe, was a false identity used by Diab.

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