Politics

Report on federal role in Hassan Diab's extradition lands on justice minister's desk

A report examining whether the federal government obeyed the law and its own procedures when it extradited Canadian university professor Hassan Diab to France over his alleged involvement in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue has been delivered to Justice Minister David Lametti.

Ottawa university lecturer was accused by France of role in bombing that killed 4

Hassan Diab was held in France for more than three years before French judges ruled the evidence against him was not strong enough to take to trial. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)

A report examining whether the federal government obeyed the law and its own procedures when it extradited Canadian university professor Hassan Diab to France over his alleged involvement in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue has been delivered to Justice Minister David Lametti.

"I can confirm that the minister's office has received the report on the external review that took place in the context of Dr. Hassan Diab's extradition case. The minister's office will take the time to review the report and its conclusions," said Department of Justice spokesman Ian McLeod.

Diab, a 65-year-old Ottawa university lecturer, was accused by French authorities of involvement in the 1980 attack, which killed four people and injured more than 40.

He has consistently maintained his innocence. He was released in January 2018 after two French judges ruled the evidence against him wasn't strong enough to take to trial. He was never formally charged.

Diab was arrested by the RCMP in November 2008 and placed under strict bail conditions until he was extradited to France in 2014. Diab spent more than three years in prison in France before the case against him collapsed.

Former justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould tasked the former deputy attorney general of Ontario, Murray Segal, with conducting an external review of Diab's extradition.

Diab boycotted Segal's review. He argued that it fell short of his demand for a judge-led public inquiry with full subpoena power that would allow Diab's lawyer Don Bayne to cross-examine witnesses.

Now that Segal's work is done, Diab hasn't changed his mind.

"After suffering a decade under virtual house arrest and near solitary confinement in Canada and France, we need to make sure that wrongful extraditions do not take place again," Diab said in a statement.

"I urge the Minister of Justice to order a serious, independent, and transparent public inquiry. Anything short of that will only extend the suffering, and miscarriages of justice will continue."

Minister studying findings

Bayne said that Segal's mandate was "deliberately too limited — to avoid the hard questions and issues" that was unable to do a true examination of the Extradition Act.

Lametti's office is studying the report's findings and its recommendations. It isn't yet clear when it will be made public. Diab's supporters want that to happen immediately.

"Given the gravity of what Hassan Diab has been through, Mr. Segal's report should be immediately released. Hassan and the public deserve answers and clarity after his ten-year ordeal," said Tim McSorley, National Coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

Civil liberties groups such as Amnesty International and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association have also pressed for a public inquiry.

Wilson-Raybould instead asked Segal to assess whether Canadian Department of Justice officials followed the law and departmental procedures while conducting the extradition.

He was also asked to look at whether government lawyers who handle extradition cases need to change their approach, and whether Canada needs to address specific issues with France over that country's treatment of Diab.

Segal wasn't tasked with reviewing Canada's extradition laws themselves — something Diab and his supporters have demanded. Segal's authority also falls short of the judge-led public inquiry requested by Diab, rights groups such as Amnesty International and some politicians.

Appeal decision pending

Diab is still waiting for the French Court of Appeal to deliver a ruling on whether the court would uphold the decision that saw Diab released from jail.

That court was supposed to hold a hearing in October of last year but no hearing took place.

If France wins its appeal, it could seek to extradite Diab a second time, or try him in absentia.


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