(photo credit: REUTERS)
The extradition to France of a Lebanese-Canadian professor suspected in taking part in a 1980 terrorist attack in Paris should be carried out without delay, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to Canadian Peter Gordon MacKay on Wednesday.
Writing from the French capital, the Jewish organization’s external relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, demanded that Hassan Diab, a former professor at the University of Ottowa who was arrested in 2008, should be sent to France for trial immediately. Diab recently demanded a hearing before Canada’s Supreme Court in a last bid to avert his deportation on the grounds that he believes he will not receive a fair trial there.
The Lebanese-born academic is suspected of taking part in the 1980 bombing of the Union Libérale Israélite de France synagogue in Paris, which left four dead and dozens wounded.
That bombing, the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted, was the beginning of two years of anti-Semitic violence across Europe, including 79 shootings and bombings, 29 of which occurred in France, climaxing with a 1982 Paris shooting spree that left nine dead.
Diab’s extradition was ordered in 2011 and, following a series of appeals, was confirmed by an appellate court in May, drawing praise from the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF), an umbrella organization representing French Jewry.
Samuels wrote MacKay details about the Diab bombing.
“That evening I was visiting a journalist friend in Paris, who had a house guest for the weekend, Aliza Shagrir – the wife of a prominent Israeli filmmaker,” Samuels wrote. “Aliza asked our host if anything was needed for dinner. She was asked to buy a few figs. We descended to the street together.
I walked straight to my car and she turned to the fruit shop on the Rue Copernic, where a few seconds later she met her death.
“This week, the Diab legal team are pursuing their delaying tactics at the Canadian Supreme Court, while the survivors and the families of the four murdered and 42 wounded have waited 34 years for closure.”
Diab’s lawyers argue that, because he was fingered based on foreign intelligence, the accuracy and sourcing of which they assert is questionable, he would not receive a fair trial in France.
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira recently wrote Samuels that, although the French government has no power to intervene in the extradition proceedings, it is “attentively following this case through our liaison magistrate in Canada.”
“We don’t understand why the Canadians are protecting him when we all deserve justice in his matter,” CRIF president Roger Cukierman told The Jerusalem Post. “I approve of the pressure the Simon Wiesenthal Center is applying to try and convince the Canadians to extradite him to France.”
Organized Canadian Jewry took issue with the center’s statement, however, with the leader of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs deeming Samuels’s comments “misplaced.”
“The Canadian government has shown remarkable consistency and determination in being responsive to the French petition for extradition.
However, like all democracies, the judicial system has a number of appeal processes in place,” CJIA CEO Shimon Fogel told the Post.
“Diab’s legal efforts have been exhausted and the decision rests with the Supreme Court of Canada.
We hope and expect that the highest court in the land will honor the French extradition request and allow for the accused return to France to face his accusers and answer the charges in the place they were made.”