Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Orland Park Police Chief defends his department

Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy defended the conduct of his officers against claims that they may have abused the rights of Nour Hadid, the Arab Muslim woman charged in the murder of her two year old niece.

Ghia Hadid was found dead and a pathology report, which attorneys for Nour Hadid dispute, concluded the two year old died from blunt trauma over a four day period. The baby’s body reportedly had 55 bruises.

But McCarthy insisted the Nour Hadid case was handled not by the Orland Park Police but rather by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force.

“The reason the investigation was initiated was that a team of experts at the Medical Examiner’s office said the 55 wounds on this little girl were consistent with child abuse. There is no other way these could have occurred other than by the belt,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the probe was not conducted by the Orland Park Police but by the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. Nour Hadid, after two days of interrogation, confessed to the killing.

“The interview of the suspect, at that time, was monitored by the assistant state’s attorney from beginning to end. And finally, the interview was not done by an Orland Park police officer,” McCarthy said during an interview Monday morning on “Radio Chicagoland” on WJJG 1530 AM Radio.

“We assisted. We called in the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. The interview of the suspect was done by Arab speaking members of the Task Force. In fact one of the members works with the FBI… all of which was monitored by the Assistant States Attorney.”

Nour Hadid’s attorneys, Reem Odeh and Joel Brodsky said they believed that the pathology report is incorrect and that their client was “humiliated” into a position where she falsely confessed.

Odeh said that Nour Hadid had her Hijab removed during the mug-shot booking. The mug-shot showed Nour Hadid naked from just below the shoulders up.

“When someone is booked, there is no police department in the country that allows people to wear a hat, sun glasses like that. As far as the rest of the clothing, it is what the person had on at the time. No more. No less. And that is what is in the picture. The press requested the picture,” McCarthy explained.

Controversy surfaced over whether or not the police humiliated Nour Hadid by forcing her to remove her Hijab. But the Hijab that Nour Hadid wore was not a typical Hijab that simply covered her head. The Hijab she wore was an extended Hijab that covered the upper torso of her body.

With the Hijab removed, she would appear as if she had also been stripped of her clothing, a view confirmed by Amani Ghouleh, who is the publisher of the Arab Horizon (al-Offok al-Arabi) Newspaper and who has closely monitored the situation.

“Everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” Ghouleh explained.

But she added, “Her Hijab when the police came, was a long Hijab that covered her head and shoulders. It is more than just a Hijab it is outer wear,” Ghouleh explained.

Ghouleh said that McCarthy does have “great respect” in the American Arab and Muslim community, but noted that McCarthy did acknowledge responsibility for releasing the photograph. She said the police should have used discretion to only release an appropriate photograph, not one that was so revealing.

While McCarthy and Odeh will square off on the issue of the humiliation and evidence reviewed by the pathologist, rightwing conservatives have been portraying this as a Muslim trying to get special treatment in the United States, a common theme advocated by anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racists.

Nour Hadid is being held without bond. Odeh said she will be interviewing the suspect soon.

-- Ray Hanania

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