May 15, 2014 2:55 pm

Appeal court upholds decision to extradite terror suspect Hassan Diab

ABOVE: Lawyer for Hassan Diab lays out case against extradition

OTTAWA – The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s decision that an Ottawa sociology professor should be sent to France as a suspect in a decades-old terror bombing.

In its ruling, the appeal court said the lower-court judge, and subsequently the federal justice minister, made no legal errors in coming to the conclusion Hassan Diab should be handed to French authorities.

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France suspects Diab, 60, was involved in the anti-Semitic bombing of a Paris synagogue in 1980 that killed four people and injured dozens of others – an allegation Diab has denied.

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

READ MORE: Ottawa man challenges extradition order

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

Diab insists he played no role in the deadly attack, saying the unwavering moral principle throughout his life has been promoting equality and respect for all.

The RCMP arrested Diab, a Canadian of Lebanese descent, in November 2008 in response to a request by France. He had worked as a contract instructor at two Ottawa universities before his world was shattered.

During the Ontario Superior Court case, Maranger examined elements of France’s request including eyewitness descriptions, composite sketches and handwriting on a hotel registration card allegedly penned by Diab – evidence his lawyers fiercely disputed.

In his ruling, Maranger concluded France had presented “a weak case” that makes the prospect of conviction, “in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely.” But he said Diab must be sent to France under the terms of Canada’s extradition law.

In his appeal, Diab argued that a flawed handwriting analysis and other evidence that at best creates a degree of suspicion amounts to a case that does not allow committal for extradition.

However, the Court of Appeal ruled Thursday that Maranger “did not err in his approach.”

Diab also contended that Nicholson made several mistakes, including opting to surrender him even though France has not yet decided whether to put him on trial for the bombing.

The appeal court ruled that the minister’s surrender decision was reasonable, “even though a trial in France is not a certainty.”

It said a process or prosecution must simply be underway “that will, if not discontinued, lead to a trial. A trial of that person, however, need not be inevitable.”

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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