October 3, 1980, rue Copernic, Paris. It is a Friday evening, therefore a Shabbat evening, also the evening of the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

A bomb explodes in front of the Copernic Synagogue of the Liberal Israelite Union of France, in the street of the same name. The canopy of the synagogue collapses on the faithful, and one of the doors is blown. Cars parked in the street are thrown onto the road, storefronts are destroyed for 150 meters.

The toll is heavy: 4 dead and 46 injured. Philippe Bouissou (22), who was passing by on a motorcycle, was killed instantly. Aliza Shagrir (42), an Israeli television presenter vacationing in France, was also killed on the spot as she walked on the sidewalk, as was Jean Michel Barbé, driver of a family who attends the synagogue. Hilario Lopez-Fernandez, the Spanish concierge at the Hotel Victor Hugo, located almost opposite the synagogue, was seriously injured and died two days later.

The investigation by the investigating judges attributed the attack, which was not claimed, to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations (PFLP-OS), a group born of a split from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP ).

It was finally necessary to wait until 1999 for the Directorate of Territorial Security to transmit new information to the investigating judges, including a passport in the name of Hassan Diab, seized in 1981 in Rome, from a presumed member of the PFLP-OS, including entry and exit stamps from Spain, the country from which the commandos are said to have left, on dates coinciding with that of the attack.

Thanks to the witnesses, a composite portrait of the terrorist was produced and, in 1999, the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance (DST) identified a certain Hassan Diab, Lebanese-Canadian, living in Canada.

Arrested in 2008, and after several years of legal action to avoid his extradition, he was finally extradited from Canada and imprisoned in France in 2014. He was dismissed in 2018, which led to his release and allowed him to return to Canada. However, the dismissal was overturned in 2021 by the Paris Court of Appeal, which referred the case to the special Assize Court.

On April 3, 2023, 43 years after the attack, the trial therefore opened in Paris. In the defendant’s box, nobody. Hassan Diab did not wish to appear at his trial.

After three weeks of pleadings and hearings of the civil parties, life imprisonment, accompanied by an arrest warrant, was requested by the Assize Court, after more than seven hours of deliberation in a packed room.

France is a democratic country, where the rule of law reigns and which offers all the protections, under French and European legislation, to the accused.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France (CRIF) – which CIJA echoed in Canada – quickly welcomed the decision of the French justice and expressly requested the extradition of Hassan Diab, sentenced to imprisonment. criminal and whose responsibility in the attack on rue Copernic leaves no room for ambiguity or debate.

We, representatives of the Canadian and French Jewish communities, therefore ask the Canadian government to respect the French judicial decision and to grant its request for the extradition of Hassan Diab so that he can serve his sentence.

No one has forgotten the attack on the Copernic Synagogue.

Forty-three years of waiting plunged the victims of the attack, their families and the witnesses into a profound quest for justice. May this finally be guaranteed to them.