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

Edmonton man charged after threatening Prime Minister online

The man is being charged under the Criminal Code

Central Alberta Film Festival returns for second year

CAFF doubles the number of films and expands to two locations in Red Deer

Central Alberta artist explores the cycles of Alberta through sculpture

Robin Lambert’s commentary on the province’s fragility is on at the MAG until March 18th

Lion’s Club fundraising through Las Vegas themed ‘flight night’

The annual fundraiser is to send locals to Camp HeHoHa

SLIDESHOW: Fun and games had at Winterfest

Many came out for the annual winter festival on Sylvan Lake, Feb. 17

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.

BC Wine Institute to take legal action against Alberta

The BC Wine Institute to seek injunction to protect B.C. wineries from Alberta wine ban

Trudeau reiterates denial of Sikh separatists in cabinet, condemns extremism

“We will always stand against violent extremism, but we understand that diversity of views is one of the great strengths of Canada.”

Canada wins gold in men’s ski cross

Leman earns redemption with ski cross gold; Homan out early

Trump says more must be done to protect children

In a tweet Tuesday night, Trump indicated he wants to strengthen the background check system, but offered no specifics.

Evangelist Billy Graham has died at 99

Graham died Wednesday morning at his home in Montreat, North Carolina.

Canadians capture bronze in women’s bobsled event

Canadians Humphries, George take bronze in women’s bobsled event at Olympics

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

Most Read