John Baglow

Next stop on the Diab railroad

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Even for France, whose judicial system is nothing like ours, its latest move in the simmering case of Hassan Diab is unprecedented.

For those who have not been keeping up, Diab, a Canadian citizen, was falsely accused of involvement in the terrorist bombing of a synagogue in Paris in 1980. Although the “evidence” against him was next to nonexistent, the unhealthy combination of a Harper government and a publicity-seeking French examining magistrate, Marc TrĂ©vidic, proved enough to have him extradited to France in 2014, where he has held ever since—without charge.

Under the French system, an examining magistrate has four years to delve into a terrorism case and determine if a trial should be held. Diab, whose extradition was based upon what even the extradition judge conceded was flimsy evidence that would likely not stand up in a Canadian court, has been in jail pretty much ever since. The examining magistrates who have been seized of his case since Trévidic stepped down in 2015 have found nothing to warrant his continual imprisonment. Indeed, one of them has turned up strong evidence that Diab was in Lebanon at the time of the Paris bombing.

But now, for the sixth time, an order for his release by the examining magistrates has been overturned—without explanation—by an appeal court in France. The French state wants a sacrificial lamb for the 1980 bombing, and has no wish to appear soft on terrorism. Islamophobia may have been playing a role as well, from the Harper government’s initial move to extradite him to the continued imprisonment by France of this clearly innocent man. Had Diab been named Mike Smith or Jean Lacroix, it is highly unlikely that any of this would have happened.

Hassan Diab must be free. Justice demands it. It’s time for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to demand it as well.

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This page contains a single entry by John Baglow published on May 4, 2017 8:52 AM.

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