Former Ontario deputy attorney general Murray Segal will lead an external probe into why Hassan Diab was extradited to France despite serious red flags raised repeatedly about the evidence presented by French prosecutors.
Diab, a former Canadian sociology professor, was released from a French prison in January 2018 after prosecutors there were forced by judges to drop terror charges against him because of a lack of evidence. He has since called for a public inquiry into the handling of his case.
In a press release Friday, officials with the Department of Justice announced plans to launch just that.
“The Minister has asked for this external review so that a thorough examination of the circumstances of Dr. Diab’s extradition to France can take place,” the press release said. “The review will focus on whether the Extradition Act was followed in this case and if there are specific concerns that need to be addressed with regard to our extradition treaty with France.”
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Diab had been extradited in 2014 after France first claimed in 2008 it had evidence he was involved in a 1980 synagogue bombing in that country.
The former Conservative government agreed to extradite but Diab fought the order, claiming he would not receive a fair trial.
French courts, unlike in Canada, allow for the use of secret information which Diab’s lawyer argued would jeopardize procedural fairness.
But the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2014 upheld a ruling supporting the decision to extradite.
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case.
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Diab was held without trial or bail for three years before a decision by French judges allowed him to be released and returned to Canada.
French police challenged that decision and according to a report by CBC News, a decision expected Friday on that matter has been delayed until September.
Since being released, Diab has repeatedly said he does not intend to seek a settlement from the Canadian government but called instead for a public inquiry.
It is not yet clear what the budget or timeline will be for the external review.
The press release said Segal “will be given the tools, access and discretion necessary to conduct a thorough and independent review of the case.”
In addition to serving as former deputy attorney general for Ontario, Segal was also the chief prosecutor for Ontario.