So spake Mr. Justice Robert Maranger this morning, presiding over Hassan Diab’s extradition hearing. If there’s a problem with Diab’s rights under the French justice system, it’s up to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to fix—not him.
Let’s re-cap. Canadian citizen Diab has been accused of taking part in the bombing of a Paris synagogue more than three decades ago. The French government has requested his extradition, and has submitted a document in support of that request called a Record of Case (ROC).
Over many weeks, counsel for Diab, Donald Bayne, has smashed the ROC to fragments. Supposedly incriminating passport evidence has been contradictory. As it turns out, the French examining magistrate told one story to one Canadian court and another in the ROC.
Then there’s the handwriting evidence. When the French learned that testimony rebutting this evidence would be permitted, they hastily withdrew it. Then they submitted fresh new evidence at the last minute, which the Crown called the “smoking gun”: the report of a grossly unqualified analyst who was blown out of the water by three internationally-recognized handwriting experts.
The defence relied upon a 2006 Supreme Court decision, Ferras, which supposedly made an extradition request less than a slam-dunk for whatever state wanted to seize one of our citizens. Nothing doing. Maranger ruled that the handwriting issue was properly a matter for trial, not an extradition hearing.
Just one problem with that. In France, the defence is not permitted to call expert witnesses. The three experts would never be heard to refute the testimony of the charlatan cited in the ROC.
So the defence took another crack at it yesterday. If the handwriting issue is properly a matter for trial, but no such trial of that evidence will ever take place, surely Diab is in a classic Catch-22 situation.
Nope, said the judge. Not my problem. Tell the Minister.
So much for the Charter of Rights. So much for Canadian justice in 2011.