Hassan Diab speaks with reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday Jan. 17, 2018. French authorities dropped terrorism charges against Diab who was suspected of taking part in an attack in Paris in 1980 and have ordered his immediate release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Newly freed Diab wants reforms to Canada’s ‘lousy’ extradition law

French authorities dropped terrorism charges against Hassan Diab who was suspected of taking part in an attack in Paris in 1980

Newly freed Hassan Diab, who spent more than three years locked up in France on suspicion of murder, is calling for changes to Canada’s “lousy” extradition law.

The Ottawa sociology professor’s supporters rallied around him Wednesday, urging the federal government to hold a public inquiry into the case and to reform the Extradition Act to ensure individual rights are respected.

Diab, 64, expressed relief at being back in Canada with his wife Rania and their young children.

“Justice has finally prevailed,” he told a news conference hosted by Amnesty International Canada. “Miracles can happen.”

Diab is settling back into life at home. But he said his main mission will be seeking changes to the extradition law, as well as assisting people who have experienced miscarriages of justice.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

French authorities suspected Diab was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others, an accusation he has always denied.

The RCMP arrested Diab, a Canadian of Lebanese descent, in November 2008 in response to a request by France.

In June 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger committed Diab for extradition despite acknowledging the case against him was weak.

The following year, then-justice minister Rob Nicholson signed an extradition order surrendering Diab to France.

The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the decisions of the lower court and the minister, and the Supreme Court of Canada declined to review the matter.

Diab’s supporters have long argued he was in Beirut when the attack took place, not Paris, and that his fingerprints, palm prints, physical description and age did not match those of the suspect identified in 1980.

In November 2014, Diab was sent to France, where he was held in solitary confinement up to 22 hours a day.

“In those dark moments, at night, you are alone, you don’t know what’s going on,” he said, calling it a form of torture.

Several French judges ordered his conditional release on various occasions over the years, but each time the order was overturned by the courts.

Last week, judges dismissed the allegations against Diab and ordered his immediate release.

In many respects what Diab has gone through “is the very definition of the word Kafkaesque,” said Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty Canada.

Diab’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, said Canada never should have extradited his client given that France did not have a case fit to go to trial. “We turned him over for a foreign investigation, not a foreign trial.”

Bayne said he would like to see a “reasoned evaluation of the deficiencies” of the extradition law with the aim of making improvements so that ”injustices like this don’t happen on our watch.”

He cautioned that the case against Diab is not fully closed due to a pending appeal in France. “It’s not over, but we’d like to hope and believe it really is over.”

There has been no discussion of suing Canada over Diab’s case, Bayne added.

For his part, Diab insisted he does not want financial compensation from the Canadian government, just changes to ensure no one else goes through what he has endured.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Driver of vehicle down 90-foot embankment rescued on Highway 5 near Hope

Rope rescue conducted on mutual-aid call with Chilliwack SAR, Hope SAR and Agassiz fire department

Missing man located in Harrison Mills

Social media helps track down missing man

B.C. BUDGET: Fare freeze, free travel for seniors on BC Ferries

A complete fare freeze will be put into place on major routes, and fares will be rolled back on smaller routes by 15 per cent

BC BUDGET: New spaces a step to universal child care

Fees reduced for licensed daycare operators

BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Foreign buyers’ tax extended to Fraser Valley, Okanagan, Vancouver Island

Karate classes delight Agassiz and area youngsters

New karate club gives kids exercise, confidence

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Condition of the Coquihalla concerning for tourists

“They don’t make a show called Highway to Hell for nothing…”

Canucks blow three goal lead, lose to Avalanche in overtime

Vancouver struggled on the penalty kill, as Colorado scored all five goals on the powerplay

Widow of avalanche victim sues Golden lodge operator

A woman from Alberta is suing guides, their mountain guide association and the lodge operator for negligence

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

Cattlemen urge B.C. to prevent erosion caused during 2017 wildfire season

Other concerns are fencing restoration and repair, and a lack of feed for cattle.

ALR review may not be open-minded

Past agriculture minister Norm Letnick skeptical of NDP approach

Most Read