Tim Louis: This is not justice for Prof. Hassan Diab

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      Just a few days ago, the French court of appeal directed Hassan Diab, (not to be confused with Lebanon’s prime minister of the same name)—a sociology professor in Ottawa with a PhD who’s been a Canadian citizen since 1993—to be committed to trial yet again.

      I’m outraged, and here’s why.

      Diab is a Lebanese-born Canadian. This CBC News report explains how he was accused by French authorities of being involved in a 1980 bombing outside a Paris synagogue that killed four and injured more than 40 people. Diab has always vehemently denied all charges.

      It took 28 years after the bombing incident for him to be charged, at which point French authorities submitted expert evidence to the French court concluding that Diab’s handwriting supposedly matched the handwriting of the perpetrator, and located him at the scene of the crime. However, Diab’s lawyer, Don Bayne—one of the best criminal defence lawyers in Canada—submitted the same handwriting samples to a number of other well-respected handwriting experts. Every one of them was adamant that the French experts were wrong.

      As a direct result of Bayne showing that the comparison handwriting samples used were not written by Diab, the Crown prosecutor in Canada, on behalf of the French court, then retracted the evidentiary nature of its original handwriting experts.

      The case against Diab continued to fall apart.

      For one, Bayne provided very strong evidence that at the time of the bombing that Diab was actually in Lebanon writing university exams. But in spite of evidence proving Diab was nowhere near the bombing in 2014,  he was extradited from Canada to France, where he was imprisoned for three years. At the time, Canadian Justice Robert Maranger described the evidence against Diab as “weak”.

      Fast forward to today: suddenly and inexplicably, the French court of appeal has ordered a new trial! This clearly flies in the face of all of the evidence put forward that exonerates him.

      I’m outraged about this latest turn of events for many reasons. But let me explain what really got my goat.

      On numerous occasions during the three years Diab was imprisoned in France, starting in 2014, the judge in charge of the case repeatedly ordered Diab’s release after reviewing all the evidence. Each and every time, the French prosecutor appealed to a higher court, which overturned the judge’s decision.

      Finally in, 2017, the case collapsed and the French prosecutor gave up. Diab was released and finally allowed to return home to Canada.

      If you are as outraged as I am at this latest wrong-minded, bizarre twist by the French court system, I urge you to write your member of Parliament and Prime Minister Trudeau requesting them to intervene and refuse to extradite Diab again. You can also point out how this case clearly illustrates the flaws in Canada’s extradition laws.

      It’s the only just and fair thing to do.

      To learn more about Hassan Diab’s odyssey of injustice, please visit Justice for Hassan Diab, and consider making a much-needed donation to his extradition legal defence fund.

      Daily atmospheric CO2 [Courtesy of CO2.Earth]

      Latest daily total (Feb. 5, 2020): 419.12 ppm

      One year ago (Feb. 5, 2019): 413.90 ppm

      Tim Louis is a Vancouver lawyer and former city councillor and park commissioner. This article first appeared on his blog, which lists the daily carbon dioxide count in parts per million in the atmosphere at the end of every post. The Georgia Straight publishes opinions like this from the community to encourage constructive debate on important issues.

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