OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian judge ruled on Monday that a suspect in a bombing that killed four people outside a Paris synagogue in 1980 should be extradited to France.
Justice Robert Maranger, however, told the suspect, Hassan Diab, he would not be surrendered to France for 30 days, during which time he can make submissions to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on why the minister should not send him there.
Diab is a Lebanese-Canadian, of Palestinian origin, and was arrested by Canadian police in 2008 after French judges issued an international arrest warrant for him.
The bomb, placed in a bag attached to a motorbike that was parked outside the synagogue in Rue Copernic, exploded on the final day of a Jewish festival, just before a crowd was due to emerge from the synagogue.
Maranger ordered Diab taken into custody while he awaits a decision by Nicholson on whether to surrender him to France. He will be able to appeal the minister’s eventual decision.
Diab, 57, sat in the front row of the court with his wife, who wore a pink scarf over her head. Police constables led him away after the verdict as he waved to applauding supporters.
Maranger said his decision was in no way a finding that Diab was guilty. In fact, Maranger said: “I conclude that the Republic of France has presented a weak case where conviction is unlikely.”
But Canada has a treaty with France that requires extradition if there has been sufficient evidence to mount a trial, he said, adding that he presupposed that would Diab would receive a fair trial in France.
Diab maintains his innocence and says the evidence is based on a flawed handwriting analysis comparing his writing with that found on a Paris hotel registration card in 1980.
French intelligence says Diab had been a member of the militant Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
He has become a Canadian citizen and lectured on sociology at two Ottawa universities before his arrest.
Canadian government lawyers arguing on behalf of France opposed letting Diab stay out on bail, saying that he had lived in six countries and was a flight risk.
The case is Attorney General of Canada (the Republic of France) v. Diab, 2011 ONSC 337.
Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Peter Galloway