Few Jews today should have missed the lessons of the Dreyfus affair a century ago. Dreyfus, a French Jew, was a captain in the upper ranks of the French military. In 1895 he was convicted of being a spy, though he vigorously denied it. Systemic anti-Semitism and his being the only Jewish officer at his rank both played a huge role in his conviction. Despite evidence that another officer was in fact the spy, at a second trial in 1899, Dreyfus was again convicted. Jailed for years on the remote Devil’s Island, he became a broken man both physically and emotionally. Leading French intellectuals, artists and writers (including Emile Zola) rallied to his cause and protested Dreyfus’ convictions. In 1906 he was finally freed, and exonerated.
There are some similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the case of Hassan Diab. Canadian Hassan Diab is finally free – in part thanks to many individuals and advocacy groups that worked for years to demonstrate the flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence against him, and that demanded a halt to his extradition to France. Diab’s six years of house arrest and three years in a French prison were outrageous injustices meted out to a man who had committed no crime.
Nonetheless, despite linking Hassan Diab to the crime, in November 2008, France demanded his extradition to stand trial for the murders. Diab was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa where he lived. He taught sociology at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The Canadian court had imposed very strict bail conditions. For example, his wife, Rania Tfaily, also a sociology professor at Carleton, had to accompany him twice a week to campus when he taught his class; he had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet (which cost him $2,000 a month); he had a curfew and had to live under house arrest when not at work. He was forbidden to own a cellphone.
In June 2011, Justice Robert Maranger ordered that Diab be extradited to France. Maranger did have misgivings; in his words the case against Diab was “convoluted”, “very confusing”, “with conclusions that [were] suspect”. Appeals to the extradition decision were denied, and Diab was extradited to France in November 2014.
For the last three years, Diab has been in solitary confinement awaiting trial in a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Paris. Though some French magistrates were convinced Diab was the wrong suspect, the prosecutors seemed desperate to pin the crime on him.
Read more to learn more about The Role of B’nai Brith Canada in the extradition of Diab.
Source: IJV-Canada: http://ijvcanada.org/2018/diab-is-finally-free/