Student expelled for plagiarism suing Concordia again

A former Concordia student who once filed a $15 million lawsuit against the university, is suing the school again.

Ashraf Azar, who was expelled from Concordia in December 2004, is asking the Quebec Superior Court to order Concordia to grant him a new disciplinary hearing on the plagiarism charges that got him kicked out.

Azar first tried to sue the university in 2007 when he asked the courts to review his expulsion and grant him over $15 million in damages.

Superior Court Justice Israel Mass dismissed his request for judicial review, ruling that Azar had waited too long to file suit, 15 months instead of the standard 30 days. Azar attempted to appeal the decision but was denied by both the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada.

In a separate May 2009 ruling, Superior Court Judge A. Derek Guthrie dismissed Azar’s monetary claims because he failed to file documents with the court on time and was considered to have abandoned the case.

An attempt to appeal that decision also failed, with a three-judge panel ruling that Azar failed to show “any error that the presiding judge would have committed.”

In documents filed with the court this winter, Azar claims that the dismissal of his previous suits was illegal and “procedurally biased,” accusing several justices of making errors and “illogical” decisions.

He also called on the appeals court to reprimand Justice Mass for “transgression of his jurisdiction bounds with respect to his conduct and absurd decision render (sic) in Mr. Ashraf Azar’s case.” The court refused.

Throughout the proceedings Azar has represented himself without legal counsel. Azar has claimed that he is unable to afford a lawyer and that while he qualifies for legal aid, no legal aid lawyer was willing to take his case and that this had contributed to the delay in suing.

However, Justice Mass ruled that there was no evidence Azar had sought legal aid

“I would dare say that it would be very basic that if one is refused legal aid and one is going to use that as an argument one would ask legal aid for a formal refusal in writing which one could produce,” he said, according to a court transcript.

Azar, along with his sister Layla Azar, was accused of plagiarism in March 2004. In his statement of claim, Azar writes that he was suspended from the university at the time, “due to what can only be seen as discriminatory motivated “errors‘ [emphasis in the original] committed by his professors with respect to his grades” and was not registered in the class in question.

Azar claims that a university-appointed advocate “coerced” him into falsely admitting to the plagiarism charges in order to secure leniency for him and his sister.

He claims that the university’s hearing panel was biased against him and that the chair of the university’s Board of Governors improperly denied him permission to appeal his case to the Board.

Concordia has yet to file a response, the two sides will appear before a judge on Jan. 20.


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