Murray Segal to lead review of Hassan Diab extradition

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has asked the former deputy attorney general of Ontario, Murray Segal, to conduct the external review of the extradition of Hassan Diab.

Diab spent more than 3 years in prison in France before terrorism case against him fell apart

Hassan Diab, a 64-year-old Ottawa university lecturer, was arrested by RCMP in November 2008 and placed under strict bail conditions until he was extradited to France in 2014. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has asked the former deputy attorney general of Ontario, Murray Segal, to conduct the external review of the extradition of Hassan Diab — a move Diab's lawyer calls "fundamentally wrong and disappointing."

Diab, a 64-year-old Ottawa university lecturer, was arrested by the RCMP in November 2008 and placed under strict bail conditions until he was extradited to France in 2014. He was wanted by French authorities in connection with a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured more than 40.

Diab spent more than three years in prison in France before the terrorism case against him fell apart. He was never formally charged.

"Mr. Segal will be given the tools, access and discretion necessary to conduct a thorough and independent review of the case," Wilson-Raybould said in a statement announcing the terms of the review.

Segal will be asked to assess whether Department of Justice officials followed the law and departmental procedures while conducting the extradition.

France failed to disclose key evident exonerating a Canadian of a terrorist attack. CBC News has learned French officials did not share fingerprint comparison evidence in their possession with their Canadian counterparts, that ultimately helped to clear Hassan Diab of committing a terrorist attack. 4:34

He will also assess whether government lawyers who handle extradition cases need to change their approach and if Canada needs to address specific issues with France over that country's treatment of Diab.

But Segal will not be asked to review Canada's extradition laws — which has been a key demand of Diab and his supporters. Segal's authority also falls short of the judge-led public inquiry for which Diab and rights groups such as Amnesty International and some politicians have been calling.

"This is so fundamentally wrong and disappointing," said Diab's lawyer Donald Bayne. "As fine a fellow as Murray Segal is he is not an independent judge. He's a career prosecutor."

Bayne said the external review will not allow for a cross-examination of Justice Department officials in the way a public inquiry would. 

"Where is Hassan Diab's right to challenge what they did to him? Only a public inquiry can have credibility," Bayne said. 

Segal spent decades holding senior positions in the Ontario public service before leaving for the private sector where he has worked as a lawyer, mediator and consultant.  

He has led a number of high-profile reviews, most notably the independent probe of the actions of Nova Scotia police and public prosecutors in the Rehtaeh Parsons case. He has also conducted reviews of CSIS and the Criminal Law Branch of British Columbia.

'Torment should never have happened'

When Diab was released and returned to Canada in January, the Department of Justice launched the "lessons learned" review of the case.

A growing list of Diab supporters and national organizations also called for a formal public inquiry after a CBC News investigation revealed the efforts Canadian officials made behind the scenes to ensure that Diab was extradited.

This week a trio of political heavyweights — former prime minister Joe Clark, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, and former Liberal cabinet minister Monique Begin — joined the push in a joint article published in the Globe and Mail.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comments on the release of Hassan Diab 0:33

"Canadians facing extradition deserve the full protection afforded by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms," they wrote. "That would be best achieved by a fully independent public inquiry, able to ensure full transparency and accountability, and provide objective and considered recommendations for reform."

"Dr. Diab's torment should never have happened. Nor should it be repeated."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was asked in June if he would call a public inquiry, and said the external review would be the extent of the assessment.

"I think for Hassan Diab, we have to recognize first of all that what happened to him never should have happened," Trudeau said. "This is something that obviously was an extremely difficult situation to go through for himself, for his family, and that's why we've asked for an independent, external review to look into exactly how this happened and make sure that this never happens again."