Canada to extradite accused Paris bomber

  Jun 6, 2011 – 10:36 AM ET | Last Updated: Jun 6, 2011 10:40 AM ET

By Chris Cobb

OTTAWA — A former University of Ottawa professor wanted in connection with a 1980 terrorist bombing can be extradited to France to face prosecution, an Ottawa judge ruled on Monday

Hassan Diab faces murder and attempted murder charges in France for his alleged role in the bombing of a Parisian synagogue on Oct. 3, 1980.

Crown prosecutors allege that Mr. Diab was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine when he helped arrange the synagogue bombing, which killed four people and injured more than 40.

The 57-year-old Lebanese-born Canadian says he is the victim of mistaken identity and denies he had any role in the bombing.

Mr. Diab, who has been living at home under strict bail conditions, was immediately taken into custody pending another bail hearing.

The courtroom was packed with supporters who had earlier rallied outside the courthouse in a show of support for Mr. Diab who they say is a victim of an unfair and un-Canadian legal process.

Mr. Diab is now expected to appeal Justice Robert Maranger’s decision — a process that could take at least a year.

He was arrested in November 2008 at the request of the French government but often-bitter exchanges between his lawyer Donald Bayne and federal Justice department lawyers have punctuated the unusually long extradition hearing.

Prosecutors set aside key intelligence evidence during the hearing after Bayne challenged them to prove it had not been gathered through torture.

Ultimately, Maranger’s decision to commit Mr. Diab for extradition appears to have been determined by controversial expert handwriting evidence that the judge himself said was problematic.

Three defence forensic handwriting experts agreed that the French evidence was flawed to the point of incompetence, but Maranger said that despite his doubts, the experts had not persuaded him to disallow the evidence.

Under extradition law, evidence provided by the country seeking to extradite a Canadian citizen has generally to be presumed reliable by Canadian courts.

Because the Mr. Diab case has set numerous precedents in its challenge of Canadian extradition law, the case could ultimately rest with the Supreme Court.