“Wiesenthal Centre Seeks Freeze of Perpetrators’ Assets to Compensate Victims.”
Paris, 4 October 2010
The Simon Wiesenthal Centre-France co-organized a 30th anniversary commemoration of the Copernic bombing at the synagogue, entitled "Remember, Analyze, Judge". On 3 October 1980, the attack, then attributed to neo-Nazis killed four in the street and wounded forty-two worshippers inside the synagogue building. The attack was later traced to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-Special Operations (PFLP-SO), then based in Lebanon.
Prime Minister Raymond Barre at the time, called the attack "a heinous act against Jews in a synagogue that struck four innocent Frenchmen crossing the street."
Current Prime Minister, François Fillon, at 6h38 pm – the moment of the explosion - redressed the injury, acknowledging the French identity of all the victims, Jew and Gentile. He lamented the continuing aggressions “against Jewish cemeteries, those who publicly wear “kippot” or do not hide their stars of David, and the constant antisemitic abuses on the Internet.”
Most speakers addressed the French request to Canada for extradition of the principal suspect, Hassan Diab, a former university lecturer in Ottawa.
Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, a terrorism expert, who was for a long time responsible for the case, saw the anniversary as the “day we exit the tunnel...justice in democracies must not serve the cause of the intolerable. Canada must grant a solution to the Copernic affair.”
Former Canadian Justice Minister, currently MP, Irwin Cotler, invoked the pursuit of justice and the danger of a culture of impunity. "Few perpetrators of such crimes have been brought before a court...there can be no refuge for criminals against humanity" He regretted that "inventories of terrorist attacks and their victims - Bali, Madrid, London - tend to ignore the specific dimension of antisemitic terrorism, leaving the impression that the Jewish victims of such attacks are not really victims...today's gathering stresses that the lesson cannot remain a dead letter. It is incumbent on us to speak out, act, protect and prevent". The ceremony, almost coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the United Nations Genocide Convention, Cotler focussed on its violations by Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
President of AMIA, Guillermo Borger, drew parallels between the Copernic bombing and the 1994 attack on his Buenos Aires Jewish welfare centre, which left 85 dead and hundreds wounded. Two successive Argentine Presidents,from the podium of the UN General Assembly, have emphasised their demand for the extradition of seven Iranians complicit in the atrocity.
Centre Simon Wiesenthal-France President, Richard Odier, movingly spoke of the impact of Copernic on his generation: "Though a child, this was the first time I felt different and understood what persecution as a Jew could mean". The Copernic effect led him to human rights agendas and,especially to campaign for Rwanda and Darfur.
The Centre’s Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, proposed that “within an eventual class action suit on behalf of French victims of Middle Eastern terrorism, the global assets of the PFLP – a constituent member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)- and those of Hassan Diab, following his extradition to France, be ordered frozen as compensation to Copernic survivors and victims' families.”
“For thirty years, justice has been denied the Copernic community. Psychological closure requires the extradition of Hassan Diab to face a French court – exactly as AMIA has waited for 16 years the arrest of the Iranian accomplices to that atrocity...The trauma of Copernic persists as the precursor for subsequent post-Holocaust pogroms, from Djerba to Istanbul to Mumbai – no perpetrator was ever arrested and justice is still in waiting", concluded Samuels.
Simon Wiesenthal’s indefatigable commitment to bringing Nazi war criminals before the bar of justice, sets guidelines for the Centre that bears his name,to examine current judicial measures for the prosecution of terrorists – the contemporary criminals against humanity.