Canada must refuse any potential second extradition of Dr. Hassan Diab
Six years ago, on 14 January 2018, Hassan Diab returned to Canada. He had spent thirty- eight months in the French maximum security prison of Fleury-Mérogis just outside Paris. For most of that time, Dr. Diab was held in solitary confinement for up to twenty-two hours a day. He was never formally charged nor tried in court.
On Friday, 12 January 2018, Jean-Marc Herbaut and Richard Foltzer, the two senior anti- terrorist investigation judges responsible for Dr. Diab’s case, signed their 72-page ‘Order of Dismissal’ decision (Ordonnance de non-lieu). They had determined that there was no evidence to justify bringing Dr. Diab to trial and ordered his immediate, unconditional release. This concluded thirty-eight years of investigation into the 1980 rue Copernic bombing.
Dr. Diab’s French lawyers, William Bourdon, Apolline Cagnat, and Amélie Lefebvre, stated that “this decision is exceptional […] in French judicial history. It is based on clear evidence that there is no possibility of attributing to Hassan Diab any responsibility in the attack.”
With the active support of Global Aﬀairs Canada (Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland) and Canadian Embassy oﬃcials in Paris, Dr. Diab was able to fly back to Ottawa on 14 January 2018. He was welcomed at the airport in the early hours of the morning by his wife and children, together with many of his local supporters.
The sense of relief and the hope that justice was finally being done, were to be short-lived. The French Prosecutor appealed against Dr. Diab’s release. Pressure from victims’ advocacy groups, aligned with ultra-conservative political opinion, and the compulsion to identify the individual(s) responsible for the 1980 explosion, all combined in the scapegoating of Dr. Diab. The French Court of Appeal, after multiple delays, rendered its opinion on 27 January 2021, eﬀectively dismissing the Ordonnance de non-lieu and ordering that Dr. Diab stand trial.
Dr. Diab’s Canadian lawyer, Donald Bayne, carried out a detailed analysis of the Court of Appeal decision: (https://www.justiceforhassandiab.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/DIAB-Memo-France-COA-2021-05-05.pdf). Donald Bayne concludes: “The serious multiple errors of fact, reliance on evidence so unreliable it should be disregarded, misstatement of its own mandated handwriting report, resort to sheer speculation in an eﬀort to explain away “essential elements” of exculpatory fingerprint and consistent alibi evidence, willful ignorance of the actual evidence and imposition on Hassan Diab of an impossible onus to prove absolute innocence “indisputably” demonstrate that the decision of the French Court of Appeal to set aside the Investigation Judges’ Order of Dismissal and order that Hassan Diab be put on trial in France is an unjust decision and one that perpetuates over a decade-long miscarriage of justice.”
Dr. Diab was tried in absentia in April 2023. Although the Investigation Judges (Jean-Marc Herbaut and Richard Foltzer) testified that there was no valid basis for a conviction, the Special Assize Court in Paris sentenced Dr. Diab to life imprisonment and ordered his arrest. “The unjust French conviction was based on secret, unsourced, uncircumstanced and unreliable ‘intelligence’ – inadmissible in our system of justice. Canada should not be party to this injustice.” (Donald Bayne)
Dr. Diab and his family live a stressful life in limbo, not knowing when or if a further unjust process might be commenced against him. Prime Minister Trudeau must honour his words in June 2018, when he acknowledged that “this is something that obviously was an extremely diﬃcult situation to go through for himself, for his family” and promised to “make sure that this never happens again”.
Canada must prevent further miscarriage of justice and refuse any potential second extradition of Dr. Hassan Diab!
Read the full media notice (in English and French):