by Miriam Katawazi
Ottawa academic Hassan Diab was extradited on Nov. 14 after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal for his extradition order. He is now charged in France with first-degree murder and attempted murder. His lawyer has told media that Diab is ready to prove there is no real evidence against him.
Diab’s Canadian lawyer Donald Bayne told the Ottawa Citizen that he learned Diab was on his way to France when his office called the jail to arrange a visit for Diab’s wife and their daughter, who turned two on Nov. 15. Bayne has told media that Diab is ready to prove there is no real evidence against him.
In a speech in August, Diab, a Canadian citizen, said he was teaching at the University of Ottawa when he first learned of the accusations that would turn his life upside down. A French journalist who sat in his lecture hall told him that he was under investigation in France because of his alleged involvement in a 1980 bombing of a synagogue in Paris. The RCMP arrested him in 2008. Diab said that he is opposed to all ethnically, racially, and religiously-motivated violence.
The suspicions are based on a handwriting analysis of five words. This evidence has been deemed “problematic” and “confusing” by a judge, said Diab during his speech. Diab’s lawyers had internationally renowned handwriting experts testify that the analysis against Diab is flawed. Fingerprints from the scene do not match Diab’s and a description of the suspect said he was a middle-aged man while Diab was 20 at the time.
In June 2011, Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger, under Canada’s extradition laws, committed Diab for extradition to face French authorities despite acknowledging the case against him was weak. Maranger said that he found the handwriting evidence “illogical, very problematic, convoluted, [and] very confusing with conclusions that are suspect.”
While in Canada, Diab was forced to wear and self-finance an electronic monitoring device despite the fact that the allegations resulted in him losing his job as a professor. The RCMP were allowed to search his home at any time they deemed reasonable and he was not permitted to leave the Ottawa-Gatineau area. In August, he added that he feels constant stress and anxiety over the fear of inadvertently violating any of his bail conditions.
In a Nov. 13 public statement, Diab described the last six years of his life as a “Kafkaesque nightmare.”
He added that it is devastating that the Supreme Court allowed his extradition for a crime that is based on a handwriting analysis report that was shown by world-renowned handwriting experts to be “wholly unreliable, totally erroneous, and biased.”
“I vow to never give up, and I will always remain hopeful that I will eventually return to my home in Canada and be reunited with my wife and children,” Diab stated.
This article first appeared in the Leveller, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Nov/Dec 2014).