This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Wrongfully Charged? With Malice Aforethought?

"The entire case was a grave miscarriage of justice, with an innocent Canadian citizen languishing in a foreign jail for 38 months."
"And now it appears that the [Canadian] justice department had evidence that he was innocent and did not disclose it."
Father Raymond De Souza, An astonishing injustice no one will care about, National Post

"[The defence findings] would jeopardize the reliability of one of the only elements of direct evidence [linking Diab to the bombing. If it were thrown out] a significant element of the overall evidence required for a court decision to allow extradition would be lost."
"[An adjournment would be advisable to allow France to consider] whether and what evidence they might wish to submit [in response to the defence's rebuttal of their handwriting analysis]. I can't be more precise than that." 
"It's somewhat useless to guess at whether it will be evidence and whether it will be evidence that we might want to lead. So I'm afraid we're at a loss."  
Claude LeFrançois, senior counsel with the IAG (International Assistance Group, federal Department of Justice)

"My first reaction is to question, is that Canada's role? Should the Department of Justice be doing this? This is France's case. Canada has no case against Dr. Diab, never did. Canada is not the investigators for France."
"The RCMP did the [fingerprint] comparison and had the results on Jan. 11, 2010. And it was conclusive, every identifiable fingerprint … excluded Dr. Diab. It was not him. It was conclusive. That was never told to the court." 
"If it's limited to an internal review [by Canada's Department of Justice] they are asking the wrong people. This has to be a broad-based inquiry. Canada failed him." 
Donald Bayne, lawyer for Hassan Diab

France has appealed Diab's release. Prosecutors are determined to try him for the 1980 attack, even if they have to do it in absentia. A decision is set for July 6 in Paris. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)

In 1980 a Paris Synagogue was bombed. A motorcycle at the scene had saddlebags packed with explosives. Four people died in the bombing, and 41 others were wounded. French police were urged to find the perpetrators, and under duress to solve this heinous crime they set out to find  the culprit responsible for this blatant terrorist act of violent anti-Semitism. They eventually settled on a 60-year-old Palestinian-Canadian academic, Hassan Diab. A request, decades after the fact, was sent to Canada for this man to be extradited to France to stand trial.

French police investigate the wreckage after a bomb attack on a Paris synagogue that killed four people, October 3, 1980.

French police investigate the wreckage after a bomb attack on a Paris synagogue that killed four people, October 3, 1980. AP

Canada has an extradition treaty with France, a country that does not extradite its own citizens. France, needless to say is an ally of Canada, a trusted democracy, with a rule of law and a justice system second to none, or so we thought. We think that Canada's justice system falls into that same category. And we could be wrong. In the event, though on the information circulated about the case, it seemed as though charges to be brought by France against this man were legitimate, long after the fact of his extradition and return to Canada, it seems that evidence was concocted and exculpatory evidence concealed.

Handwriting samples purportedly linking Diab to the bombing appeared to be hugely suspect. And then, it appears that a senior counsel with the International Assistance Group in the Department of Justice, Claude LeFrancois, took it upon himself to coach the French on how they could improve the chances of convincing Canadian authorities that Diab be extradited forthwith. Among recommendations were that they forward fingerprint evidence for the RCMP labs to interpret, but when they were compared to Mr. Diab's there was no match. That vital information was never shared with Mr. Diab's lawyer.

In Mr. Diab's defence handwriting experts were agreed that a French expert was "biased, unqualified, and based her conclusions on flawed methodology." They reached the conclusion that the results in the "smoking gun" report were "patently unreliable," "wholly unreliable" and "fatally flawed." Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger who presided over the trial characterized the French report as "convoluted, very confusing with conclusions that are suspect." France, he wrote presented "a weak case; the prospects of conviction in the context of a fair trial, seem unlikely."

However, as unbalanced as it seems, given the lack of reciprocity in the Canada-France extradition treaty, under Canada's extradition laws, any evidence France submitted to the court had to be considered "presumptively reliable." And this is what sealed Mr. Diab's immediate fate, and led to his extradition after years of delays and against Justice Maranger's better judgement. Having heard the case, absent the federal Justice Department's own "smoking gun" clearing Diab through fingerprint analysis, there was little option but to order the extradition to proceed.

Once in France, Diab spent 38 months in almost constant solitary confinement in France's largest prison without ever being charged. French courts, repeatedly citing a lack of evidence linking him to the bombing, ordered his release. Eventually he was released and approval given for his return to Canada. The French government is still convinced he is their suspect and remains dedicated to returning him, to put him on trial. Even though they were presented with university records proving that on the day of the bombing in Paris, Diab was writing exams in Beirut, Lebanon.

Miscarriage of justice? Seems like it. Is Diab a bitter man? Who wouldn't be? Is he intent on suing the Department of Justice for their furtive part in furthering France's intentions to hold a man whom evidence clears of involvement in a terrorist act guilty of having carried out that attack? Seems not. It isn't revenge he seeks, it appears, but rather regret that when he avowed he hated no one, and would never descend to harming anyone, he was never believed. Why would he be, when two government agencies appeared so certain he was guilty?

Are we missing something here? As to why it is that France is so convinced, despite a lack of evidence -- indeed a presence of evidence conversely indicating their suspicions have fallen on the wrong man, that Diab, as originally believed -- was responsible for a terrorist attack linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine? Whose mandate, like all such terrorist groups is indeed to slaughter Jews and destroy the State of Israel.

Diab and his wife, Carleton University professor Rania Tfaily, at home with daughter Jena and son Jad. (Lisa Laventure/CBC)

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