Middle East studies in the News
Hassan Diab Destined For Long Wait in Paris Prison
by Chris Cobb
Ottawa academic Hassan Diab, whisked out of the country in November just hours after Canada's top court refused to hear his final appeal against extradition, will see out the year at the huge Fleury-Mérogis Prison outside Paris charged with four murders at a Paris synagogue in 1980.
Diab's daughter, Jena, celebrated her second birthday the day after her father's extradition. He will not see the birth of his son, due in early January.
The 60-year-old academic's wife, Rania Tfaily, spoke to her husband on Dec. 11 for the first time since his extradition and after weeks of trying. The conversation lasted five minutes before being abruptly cut.
"He says he is doing OK," says Taifly, "and he's starting to get the letters and reading material we have been sending. He asked about the pregnancy and about Jena and spoke to her a little bit."
A French magistrate formally charged Diab the day he arrived in Paris but it is expected to take at least 18 months of investigation before he stands trial, if the French decide to proceed with the case.
The synagogue bombing, the first attack against French Jews since the Second World War, came at the height of terrorist activity by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – an organization the Lebanon-born Diab denies ever belonging to.
The bomb, planted in a motorcycle saddle bag, was powerful. It killed four passersby, injured 40 inside and outside the synagogue and extensively damaged stores and vehicles along the street.
Diab has also denied being in France the day the synagogue was bombed and there is no passport evidence to prove that he was. He says he has a common Lebanese name and is the victim of mistaken identity.
The case exposed Canada's little known extradition law to a level of public scrutiny it has never before seen.
Lawyers who defend in extradition cases say Canadian citizens are routinely sent to stand trial foreign countries based on evidence too flimsy to get a conviction in a Canadian court.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Maranger confirmed this when he ruled that Diab had to be extradited but if his trial were held in Canada he would likely be acquitted.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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