French court again re­verses aca­demic’s re­lease

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - CHRIS COBB ccobb@post­

For the eighth time, a French ap­peals court has over­turned a ju­di­cial order to re­lease on bail for­mer Ot­tawa univer­sity pro­fes­sor Has­san Diab.

Since his ex­tra­di­tion from Canada three years ago, four judges have ruled that the 63-year-old Cana­dian ci­ti­zen should be re­leased from the max­i­mum-se­cu­rity Paris prison where he has been held on pre-trial de­ten­tion.

Fol­low­ing a now fa­mil­iar pat­tern, an ap­peals court quashed the lat­est re­lease order Tues­day.

Le­banon-born Diab is the sole sus­pect in the Oc­to­ber 1980 ter­ror­ist bomb­ing of a Paris synagogue in which four passersby were killed and more than 40 in­jured.

He de­nies be­ing in­volved and says he was study­ing in Beirut at the time of the bomb­ing.

The ap­peal judges are ex­pected to re­lease the rea­sons for Tues­day ’s de­ci­sion later this week, but they have pre­vi­ously ac­cepted the pros­e­cu­tion’s claim that Diab is a threat to pub­lic order and a flight risk.

Diab’s French lawyer Wil­liam Bour­don says the pros­e­cu­tion ap­peals are “not ju­di­cial but po­lit­i­cal” and mo­ti­vated by a re­luc­tance not to ap­pear soft on ter­ror­ism.

In­ves­ti­gat­ing Judge Jean-Marc Her­baut, one of the judges who has re­peat­edly or­dered Diab’s re­lease, ended his in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case in July af­ter say­ing pre­vi­ously that there is “con­sis­tent ev­i­dence” that Diab is telling the truth.

Dur­ing his al­most three-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion, Her­baut vis­ited Le­banon to in­ter­view — among oth­ers — some of Diab’s con­tem­po­raries.

But in a sur­prise twist to the saga, Diab’s Ot­tawa lawyer Don­ald Bayne said a “for­eign na­tion” has in­ter­vened with Her­baut and given the judge ad­di­tional doc­u­ments.

Diab’s le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tives re­fused to name the “for­eign na­tion” but said it is nei­ther Canada nor France. Bayne told this news­pa­per there is noth­ing new in the those doc­u­ments, which he said con­tain nu­mer­ous fac­tual er­rors.

The Ci­ti­zen has not seen the doc­u­ments.

But Judge Her­baut has ap­par­ently de­cided to re­open the case three months af­ter an­nounc­ing its clo­sure to give the new in­ter­ven­tion a fair hear­ing.

Af­ter he closed the case in July, the judge gave prose­cu­tors and de­fence lawyers 30 days to re­spond with fi­nal “ob­ser­va­tions,” as is nor­mal prac­tice in the French jus­tice sys­tem.

Her­baut said that 10 days af­ter re­ceiv­ing those re­sponses, he would rule whether Diab should be re­leased and sent home to Canada, or go to trial for the al­leged ter­ror­ist of­fences.

Diab’s French lawyers re­sponded and urged the judge to fi­nally end the case against the aca­demic.

Prose­cu­tors have still not re­sponded, and while that is un­usual, there is no le­gal re­quire­ment for them to do so.

Diab’s lawyers ex­pect the judge to fi­nally close the case shortly.

Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, among other groups, has ac­cused the French gov­ern­ment of con­tra­ven­ing hu­man rights con­ven­tions in its treat­ment of Diab.

The sup­port group “Jus­tice for Has­san Diab” re­leased an open let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau on Tues­day signed by prom­i­nent Cana­di­ans. They are urg­ing Trudeau to in­ter­vene in the case.

Global Af­fairs Canada said it is closely mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion and its Paris-based con­sular of­fi­cials have vis­ited Diab in jail sev­eral times to check on his con­di­tion.

Has­san Diab


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