Middle East studies in the News
French Court Rejects Hassan Diab Appeal to Have Key Evidence Tossed
by Chris Cobb
Ottawa academic Hassan Diab, currently in a Paris prison awaiting trial for terrorism-related killings, has suffered a significant legal setback.
The French Court of Appeal has rejected the 62-year-old's application to have crucial handwriting and intelligence evidence removed from the prosecution's case against him.
The Lebanon-born Canadian was extradited to France at the French government's request in November 2014. He is accused of planting a bomb that killed four people outside a Paris synagogue in October 1980.
At least 40 others inside and outside the Rue Copernic synagogue were injured in the blast.
Since his arrest by the RCMP in November 2008, the father of four has maintained his innocence and says he was not in Paris at the time of the bomb attack.
French authorities claim the bombers used false travel documents to enter and exit France.
An Ottawa extradition judge ordered Diab deported in the summer of 2011. After a series of failed appeals — including a refusal by the Supreme Court to review his case — he was flown to Paris, jailed and charged.
Canadian federal prosecutors acting for the French government withdrew the intelligence evidence at the extradition hearing when it became clear that its source was unknown and the French could not prove that it hadn't been gleaned from torture.
That same evidence now will be used against Diab at his trial, which is expected during 2016.
The handwriting analysis was key to Diab's extradition and the subject of a bitter dispute at the extradition hearing.
Three internationally renowned handwriting experts hired to testify at the extradition hearing by Diab's lawyer, Donald Bayne, denounced the French analysis as incompetent.
It compared a signature on a hotel registration card with a sample of Diab's handwriting provided to the French by the University of Syracuse, where Diab studied.
Bayne told the Citizen he was "disappointed" that the French legal system sees the handwriting analysis and unsourced intelligence as credible evidence.
"Every credible handwriting expert has said the handwriting opinion is unreliable," he said.
Meanwhile, Diab's supporters raised $18,025 during a five-week fundraising effort that ended shortly before Christmas.
His supporters will use the money — more than $16,000 of it from online donations — to produce a short documentary to highlight what they say is a "deeply flawed case that risks convicting an innocent man."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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