The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Canada’s Hassan Diab ordered back to French prison Open in fullscreen

Jillian Kestler-D'Amours

Canada’s Hassan Diab ordered back to French prison

Diab (R) was extradited to France in 2014 after a long appeals process in Canada[Getty]

Date of publication: 1 June, 2016

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Hassan Diab, 62, was extradited to France for alleged role in deadly 1980 Paris synagogue bombing, but supporters say the case has no basis.
A Lebanese-Canadian professor who has spent the last 18 months in prison in France for his alleged involvement in a 1980 Paris synagogue bombing has been ordered to return to jail after less than two weeks out on bail.

Canadian attorney Donald Bayne confirmed that Hassan Diab, 62, was back in custody on Tuesday after state prosecutors won their appeal of a French judge’s May 14 decision to release him on bail while the investigation proceeds.

"The injustice continues," Bayne said about the court’s decision to overturn Diab’s release.

Diab, 62, was extradited to France in November 2014 after a long and exhaustive appeals process in Canada, which included several months of imprisonment and strict bail conditions, including house arrest and wearing an electronic monitoring device.

The French authorities have accused Diab of being involved in a deadly bombing at a Paris synagogue in 1980.

Roger Cukierman, president of CRIF, an umbrella body for Jewish organisations in France and prominent pro-Israel lobby group, said Diab’s release on bail in mid-May was "an insult to justice."
Diab, 62, was extradited to France in November 2014 after a long and exhaustive appeals process in Canada, which included several months of imprisonment and strict bail conditions, including house arrest and wearing an electronic monitoring device
"My thoughts are with the victims’ families," Cukierman wrote on Twitter at the time.

But the case against Diab has been plagued by inconsistencies from the outset, including a reliance on secret, state intelligence information and a questionable connection to the crime based on a largely discredited handwriting analysis.

The Lebanese-born Canadian has consistently denied the allegations against him, while also stating that he was not in France at the time of the bombing.

Bayne told The New Arab that Diab had been staying at the home of an academic in France while out on bail, and said he was doing "remarkably considering what he’s been through".

‘Convoluted’ evidence

A bomb exploded outside a synagogue on Rue Copernic
in Paris on 3 October 1980 [Getty]
A bomb exploded outside a synagogue on Rue Copernic in Paris on 3 October 1980, killing four people and injuring about 40 others. The French authorities believe members of an armed branch of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) carried out the attack.

After an investigation spanning several decades, France requested Diab’s extradition in 2008 to face murder, attempted murder and other charges. At the time, Diab, who was born in Lebanon and obtained Canadian citizenship in 2006, taught sociology at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University.

The state’s case includes a report comparing Mr Diab’s handwriting to a hotel registration note allegedly signed by one of the bombers. Several international experts have however questioned the reliability of that handwriting comparison.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger, who signed off on Diab’s extradition in 2011, even called the report 'convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect'
Ontario Superior Court Judge Robert Maranger, who signed off on Diab’s extradition in 2011, even called the report "convoluted, very confusing, with conclusions that are suspect".

Maranger also stated that France’s case against Diab was "weak" and that "the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial [was] unlikely," but he went ahead with the extradition anyway.

Less than a year later, the Canadian Minister of Justice officially signed the extradition order. And after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to grant leave to appeal the decision, Diab was extradited to France in November 2014.

Canada’s extradition process questioned

In a statement read out after his appeal was denied by the Ontario Court of Appeal, Diab said that, "such a decision means that any Canadian citizen can be detained, uprooted and extradited based on deeply flawed evidence that a foreign state submits."

Canadian laws allow citizens to be extradited to a foreign country for the purposes of standing trial, not to be the subject of a criminal investigation, explained Bayne, who represented Diab in his Canadian extradition hearings.

Bayne condemned Canada’s decision to extradite Diab in the first place, calling it "woeful" and in violation of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"It violates our most fundamental concepts of freedom, reliability of evidence, fair trial," he said.

"[Canada’s previous government] extradited despite the fact that the handwriting was woefully unreliable and despite the fact that France uses secret intelligence as evidence, which is unconstitutional."

"It’s just been one legal failure after another," he added.
Canada’s previous government extradited despite the fact that the handwriting was woefully unreliable and despite the fact that France uses secret intelligence as evidence, which is unconstitutional
Intervention from Ottawa.

Monia Mazigh, head of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, a Canadian advocacy group, agreed that Diab’s case raises questions about Canada’s extradition process since he was extradited while the French investigation appears to be ongoing.

Mazigh said that the recent decision to release Diab on bail should serve as a signal to the Canadian government that it should intervene in the case and call on France to return Diab to his family.

Diab’s wife, Rania Tfaily, and their two young children still live in Canada.

"This is also another sign to Canada that they can still correct a wrong, they can still undo it in a manner where Hassan Diab’s rights are at least protected after all these years," Mazigh said.

"There is some room here to turn [back] what has been done and bring him back and close this sad chapter."

Comparison to ‘Dreyfus Affair’

Meanwhile, Bayne compared Diab’s case to the Dreyfus Affair, a case in the 1890s in France that saw Alfred Dreyfus, a captain in the French military of Jewish background, convicted of treason for allegedly passing state secrets to the Germans.

Dreyfus’ conviction was based on the state’s secret evidence and flawed handwriting analysis, something reminiscent of Diab’s case today, Bayne said.

At the time of the Dreyfus case, acclaimed French author Emile Zola wrote an open letter – J’Accuse (I Accuse) – charging the French military authorities of unfairly targeting Dreyfus because of anti-Jewish racism. The political scandal the case created pushed France to finally pardon and release Dreyfus.

"We need voices raised," Bayne said, about garnering public support for Diab, "because the legal system has failed him."

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More