Suspect in 1980 Paris synagogue attack freed on bail

Paris (AFP) –


The chief suspect in a deadly attack on a Paris synagogue in 1980 has been released on bail after being held for 18 months, judicial and investigation sources told AFP Tuesday.

Hassan Diab, 62, is accused of being part of the Special Operations branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). The PFLP was blamed for the bombing on October 3, 1980, that left four dead and around 40 injured.

Diab, a Lebanese-Canadian sociology professor, was extradited from Canada in November 2014 and charged with the attack. The bombing of the synagogue in rue Copernic, western Paris, was the first major attack on a Jewish site in France since World War II.

But Diab was released on bail on Saturday after a judge ruled there was a doubt on the "fundamental question" of whether he was in France on the day of the attack.

Diab's ex-wife told investigators that he was in Beirut on September 28, 1980, despite stamps in his passport indicating that he was already in Europe by that date, a source close to the investigation told AFP.

The judge said her statement should be treated with caution but had to be taken into account, the source added.

The Paris prosecutor's office has appealed the decision.

Diab has been charged with murder, attempted murder and destruction of property as part of a terrorist enterprise.

He has always maintained his innocence and denied being a member of the PFLP.

His lawyer, William Bourdon, said there was "strictly no risk of flight. He will be present for the next hearing before the court of appeal," where he could be returned to jail.