Canadian court upholds extradition of prof wanted for terrorism in France

TORONTO (JTA) — A Canadian court upheld a ruling ordering the extradition to France of an Ottawa professor suspected of taking part in a deadly 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue.

In a decision Thursday, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s 2011 finding that Hassan Diab should be handed over to French authorities. The appeal court found that the lower court and Canada’s justice minister made no legal errors in concluding that Diab should be returned to France.

French authorities allege that Diab, 60, a sociology professor in Ottawa, was a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which made and planted a bomb that killed four people and injured more than 40 on Oct. 3, 1980 outside the Rue Copernic synagogue in Paris.

At a news conference in Ottawa, a supporter read a statement written by Diab. “It is with great shock that I learned that the Court of Appeal upheld my extradition order on the sole basis of a discredited handwriting analysis report,” Diab wrote. “Such a decision means that any Canadian citizen can be detained, uprooted and extradited based on deeply flawed evidence that a foreign state submits.

“I neither participated in, nor had any knowledge of this heinous crime,” Diab wrote in his statement. “I have always opposed anti-Semitism, discrimination and violence. I am innocent of the accusations against me.”

His lawyer, Don Bayne, said he will file an appeal with Canada’s Supreme Court.

Bayne said a handwriting analysis submitted as evidence is “ludicrous” and “manifestly unreliable,” that fingerprints from the scene do not match Diab’s, and that a description of the suspect was of a middle-aged man; Diab was in his 20s at the time.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested Diab, a Canadian of Lebanese descent, in late 2008 in response to a request by France.

In a statement, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs said the the upholding of the extradition order “does not assume Diab’s culpability. Diab will be able to defend himself before France’s judicial system, which is just as impartial as Canada’s.”

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