Ottawa

Evidence unsealed in case of Ottawa man accused in Paris bombing

An Ottawa professor accused in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue defended himself in court Thursday against questions about his international travels and relationships with women.

An Ottawa professor accused in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue defended himself in court Thursday against questions about his international travels and relationships with women.

On Thursday, a publication ban on the case was lifted and a hearing continued to determine whether Hassan Diab, 55, would pose a flight risk if he were released on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing to determine if he should be released to French officials.

Diab, who taught sociology at both the University of Ottawa and Carleton University, was arrested in Gatineau, Que., on Nov. 13 at the request of French authorities, who accuse him of making and planting a bomb that killed four people and injured 20 others on Oct. 3, 1980.

A sealing order on the evidence from France was also reversed at the request of both sides after an intervention by an Ottawa lawyer acting on behalf of the CBC and the Ottawa Citizen.

Included in the evidence are claims by French police that Diab, a Lebanese-Canadian, used an alias and a false Cyprus passport to get into France in 1980. Diab is accused of purchasing a motorscooter to carry explosives that went off outside the synagogue.

Police sketches of the bombing suspect based on witness descriptions and old passport photos were also part of the evidence.

In France, Diab would face charges of murder and attempted murder.

Interrogated about his travels

Federal lawyer Claude Lefrançois on Thursday interrogated Diab about his travels as a student and teacher, as well as a trip he took to Cuba with a woman unbeknownst to his wife, saying both raise questions about his reliability.

When asked why he didn't tell his wife about the trip to Cuba, Diab replied: "Why should I?"

As Lefrancois urged him to admit it would be the proper thing to do, Diab replied "That's your view, not my view."

Ontario Superior Court Justice Michel Charbonneau barred the federal lawyer three times from asking questions about Diab's relationship history and other past experiences on the grounds they were irrelevant to the bail hearing.

For his part, Diab said he and his wife endured relationship challenges earlier this year when they believed he was being tailed by strangers. Their suspicions prompted a call to police that was never followed up on, Diab said, adding that he eventually rented an apartment in Gatineau, Que., to get whoever was following him off his trail.

Lefrancois also questioned Diab for hours regarding a log of the exit and entry stamps on his Lebanese passport while he was a student in Lebanon, as well as when he was a student and teacher in the United States and a teacher in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Bail hearing continues Friday

The bail hearing is scheduled to continue Friday.

Outside the courthouse, Diab's lawyer René Duval said Diab would be willing to temporarily give up his passport in exchange for his freedom. He added that the defence would be calling several character witnesses to attest to Diab's trustworthiness.

Duval said the French government's evidence against his client is "basically non-existent."

"To me, this is no evidence and certainly not reliable evidence," he said. "I urge you to [await] our final submission in which we tear that to pieces."

Duval alleged that Diab's arrest is politically motivated by authorities who want to appear to be taking action in the war on terror.

With files from the Canadian Press

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