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

Wildfire update: Fires burning in Fraser Canyon, Highway 7 and Skagit Valley

Several fires in the region are under ‘modified response’ meaning no firefighters are attending

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Chilliwack is home to Sasquatch, the first Canadian-designed hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, the Sasquatch hop is the country’s first patented hops plant

Highway 7 down to one-lane alternating as crews fight Mt. Hicks wildfire

150-hectare blaze prompted closure of a provincial park

Interim GoFundMe payments approved in Humboldt Broncos crash

$50,000 to be given to each of the 13 survivors and each family of the 16 people who died

Altidore nets 3 as Toronto drubs Whitecaps 5-2

Vancouver falls 7-4 on aggregate in Canadian Championship final

Ottawa intervenes to get B.C. ball player, 13, to Little League World Series

Before immigration issue was resolved, Dio Gama was out practicing the game he loves Wednesday

Pet goldfish invades small B.C. lake

Pinecrest Lake is located between Whistler and Squamish

Metro Vancouver water reservoirs in ‘good shape’

Reserves sitting at 70-per-cent full, officials said, despite long stretch without major rain

Mounties deployed to help B.C. communities affected by wildfires

RCMP officers heading to places particularly within central, northern and southern B.C.

Chinese medicine practitioner in B.C. facing historical sex assault charges

71-year old Kit Wong practiced acupuncture from his home during the time of the assaults

Quebec sets aside $900 million for companies hurt by U.S. tariffs

Premier Philippe Couillard says his government will make $863 million available over five years

Most Read