Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Hassan Diab: the Crown drags its feet

Readers may remember this case. It broke into public view last year when Hassan Diab, a lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University was abruptly fired by the President, Roseanne Runte, after a complaint by B'nai Brith.

Diab is accused by the French government of having bombed a synagogue in Paris 30 years ago. He has effectively been found guilty by B'nai Brith's Frank Dimant, and Runte, not to mention the odd neo-McCarthyite media columnist, but his extradition hearing before a real court of law is another matter.

Briefly, the case against Diab is crumbling quickly, and the Crown has been seeking delay after delay in the actual hearing so it can get its act together.

In France, the defence is not permitted to call expert witnesses: only the prosecution may do so. In Canada, with a somewhat more balanced system of justice, the defence may indeed counter with its own witnesses. The judge presiding over the case in Ottawa has allowed expert evidence to be introduced by Diab's lawyers.

France, which has had three decades to put the case against Diab together, now wants to review the new evidence, which casts considerable doubt on the original narrative, to put it mildly.

The judge does not appear to be happy with the Crown's tactics:

Justice Robert Maranger expressed concern that the Crown's delays are "wreaking havoc" with the court's schedule. “We have a Canadian citizen under strict bail conditions waiting around to see what happens. I don't want to see that happen." The Judge asked the Crown to clarify whether France intends to submit additional evidence, but the Crown was not able to give a definite answer.

The Crown has also involved itself in questionable conduct with respect to its translation of documents from France:

The parties also spent considerable time debating the translation of the Record of the Case (ROC) from French to English. The Crown has so far produced five English versions of the ROC since February 2009. Mr. Bayne [one of Diab's lawyers] argued that the Crown violated protocols set down by the Judge for revising the English translation. He accused the Crown of attempting to "sanitize" the translation by instructing the translator to replace the word "intelligence" with "information". The Crown started doing this after the Judge ruled that the defense may call evidence showing the inherent unreliability of using intelligence as evidence. Mr. Bayne cited case law showing that neither party may take on the role of translator. The Judge ruled that the Crown must provide a list of all changes that have been made to the English translation of the ROC since the first version.

The extradition hearing itself may take place in June, if the Crown and the defence can agree on dates. Until then, Diab remains jobless and under strict bail conditions, including the wearing of a GPS device at all times. The latter costs $2500 per month--and Diab has to come up with the money himself.

No comments: