France drops terrorism case against Canada professor

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Hassan Diab was under investigation and held in custody for three years over 1980 Paris synagogue bombing that killed four people.

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French authorities have dropped all terrorism charges* against Lebanese-Canadian professor Hassan Diab in the 1980 Paris synagogue bombing, reports the BBC.

He was charged* with first-degree murder in connection to the bombing that killed four people and injured 40.

He was arrested in Canada in 2008 and extradited to France in 2014. He spent three years in prison.

Mr Diab, 64, has always maintained his innocence and says he was in Lebanon at the time of the attack.

"Canada welcomes the recent court decision to release Hassan Diab," said Brittany Venhola-Fletcher, a spokeswoman for Canada's department of international affairs.

Ms Venhola-Fletcher was not able to say when the former University of Ottawa professor would be returning to Canada.

French judges ruled the evidence "was not convincing enough" and ordered Mr Diab to be released on Friday. His extradition to France has triggered a number of people to call for an update to Canada's extradition act.

French prosecutors say they will appeal the decision.

Mr Diab has always said that he was in Lebanon at the time of the attack to write university exams, and several witnesses, as well as university documents, back up his claim.

Read more of this report from the BBC.

* Editor's note: Under a change to the French legal system introduced in 1993, a magistrate can decide a suspect should be 'placed under investigation' (mise en examen), which is a status one step short of being charged (inculpé), if there is 'serious or concordant' evidence that they committed a crime. Some English-language media describe this status, peculiar to French criminal law, as that of being charged. In fact, it is only at the end of an investigation that a decision can be made to bring charges, in which case the accused is automatically sent for trial.

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