An Ottawa-area man accused by France of involvement in a 1980 synagogue bombing will remain in jail until an appeal court judge can rule on his application for bail.


Hassan Diab, right, says a case of mistaken identity has implicated him in a synagogue bombing 31 years ago in Paris. ((Pawel Dwulit/Canadian Press))

Hassan Diab, a Lebanese-born Canadian who taught sociology at both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, was arrested in Gatineau, Que., in November 2008 at the request of French authorities.

He had been free on restrictive bail conditions until Monday, when an Ontario Superior Court judge in Ottawa committed him for extradition  and ordered him back into custody.

France accuses him of being behind a deadly bombing outside a Paris synagogue 31 years ago, but the French case is based on secret information the country refuses to divulge, as well as five handwritten words on a Paris hotel register that are acknowledged to be by the pen of one of the bombers.

Diab’s appeal lawyer, Marlys Edwardh, told an Ontario Court of Appeal justice on Thursday in Toronto that the case against her client is so shaky, it would never even be put before a jury. The judge who approved Diab’s extradition said in a hearing in February that the handwriting analysis on which the French government is relying was "problematic" and "suspect." The same judge said the evidence of three handwriting analysts for the defence  was "scathing," but nevertheless approved the extradition because of Canada’s treaty obligations to France.

Federal Crown attorney Richard Kramer told the appeal court that arguments about the reliability of the French government’s handwriting analysis are a matter for a trial, not an extradition hearing, and that it’s not up to Canada to dictate to another country how to use secret information in legal proceedings.

Appeal Court Justice  Eleanore Cronk said she would issue her ruling on Diab’s appeal for bail within two weeks. Diab will remain in custody until then.