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Hassan Diab can now be extradited to France

Hassan Diab loses Supreme Court bid to halt extradition to France

CBC News Posted: Nov 13, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Nov 13, 2014 12:12 PM ET

An Ottawa university instructor has lost his bid to have the Supreme Court hear his appeal on his extradition to France, where he’s a suspect in a deadly bombing.

 French authorities allege Hassan Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They also claim he took part in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured more than 40 others.

Diab, a Canadian citizen, has repeatedly denied the allegations. He and his legal team appealed an extradition order over what they describe as crucial questions about the use of untested intelligence in a criminal prosecution.

In arguments filed with the Supreme Court, lawyers for the sociology instructor say France’s reliance on secret information raises fundamental issues of constitutionality and procedural fairness.

But the country’s top court refused Thursday to hear the application and dismissed the appeal without costs. As is usual in applications for leave to appeal, the court did not give reasons for its decision.

The decision means Diab can now be extradited to France.

Supporter incredulous case wasn’t heard

Peter Gose, who taught at Carleton when Diab lectured there, was with a group of 20 protesters outside the courthouse when the decision was announced.

Peter GosePeter Gose, who taught at Carleton when Diab lectured there, said he was surprised the top court chose not to hear the case. (CBC)

​Gose said he was saddened by the result and said it was incredible Diab’s appeal wasn’t heard because his case has exposed serious problems with Canada’s extradition laws.

The French Embassy in Canada noted the court decision in a statement Thursday and reiterated that “with regard to French law, Mr. Hassan Naïm Diab is presumed innocent.”

“In France, he will be heard by an investigating judge in an open judicial inquiry regarding the attack that took place on October 3rd, 1980, on rue Copernic, in Paris,” the statement read.

But Gose said he and Diab’s supporters are worried about what kind of trial Diab will have in France.

“They have anti-terrorism laws that allow them to treat as evidence unsourced and uncircumstanced intelligence,” said Gose.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs commended the court for upholding the decision.

Case weak against him, lawyers had argued

In 2011, an Ontario judge ordered Diab extradited even though he said the case against him was weak. Diab has been living under house arrest ever since.

The lower court’s decision was upheld by Ontario’s Court of Appeal and the federal Justice Minister.

Donald Pratt, who went to graduate school with Diab in the 1980s and is a member of Diab’s support committee, said he’s critical of Canada’s extradition law, which he said allows evidence even the judge called problematic.

“If this case is not challenged successfully in the Canadian system, this will set a new precedent — a dangerous new low on what’s acceptable to extradite,” Pratt said.

French authorities say Diab’s handwriting resembles five words written by a suspect. Diab’s lawyers had five handwriting experts testify that the analysis is flawed.

Pratt said his friend’s case is highly politicized because the bombing is unsolved.

“Clearly you know Hassan’s background as an Arab and the whole climate around terrorism is clearly a factor in this,” Pratt said.

Under Canada’s extradition law, Diab was incarcerated Wednesday in advance of the high court’s decision. Pratt said Diab is worried about his pregnant wife and his young daughter.

“Of course going in with the uncertainty if he’s ever going to come out this time is weighing heavily on him,” Pratt said.

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