Globe and Mail

B.C. mom says she's been treated unfairly

Woman at centre of police investigation focuses on visiting baby girl who survived fall

ROD MICKLEBURGH
British Columbia Bureau
The Globe and Mail
Thursday, September 30, 1999

Vancouver -- The mother at the centre of a police investigation into the 45-metre plunge of her 18-month-old daughter from a canyon suspension bridge says she is being treated unfairly.

In her first extensive comments on the sensational case, which police have suggested may be attempted murder, Nadia Hama told reporters yesterday that she will tell her side of the story "when I get a moment."

Asked about allegations in a police search warrant outlining why they believe there are "reasonable grounds" that Ms. Hama may have dropped the child on purpose, she replied: "You know, I really don't care what people think.

"I just feel that I was not treated fairly. I'm just concentrating right now to seeing my children," she said. She added that she visited her daughter, Kaya, and four- year-old son, Jovan, on Tuesday.

Concerning Kaya, who survived her long fall with only cuts and bruises, Ms. Hama replied: "She's doing great."

Both children are being cared for by the brother and sister-in-law of her estranged husband, Kjeld Werbes. Ms. Hama, 39, and Mr. Werbes, 53, have been locked in a series of bitter disputes over the breakup of their marriage.

Mr. Werbes, a Vancouver securities lawyer, also spoke publicly about the matter for the first time yesterday.

In a short conversation with reporters, Mr. Werbes said it was "an absolute miracle" that his daughter survived her plunge from the Capilano Suspension Bridge. She landed on a rocky ledge directly below the bridge, her fall apparently broken by a series of tree boughs.

"My little daughter is doing incredibly well, but I really don't want to speak to the media at this particular time. The welfare of my family and my children are the most important thing to me."

He said the media have been "very kind in the past" to him. "In due course, I will have a statement coming."

A police affidavit used to obtain the right to search Ms. Hama's home last says she has had difficulty coping with her daughter's disability. Kaya was born with Down syndrome.

The affidavit, which contains only allegations to support a police search and no proof of criminal actions, said Ms. Hama acted "inappropriately" at the site of the Sept. 22 incident after learning her child had survived the steep fall.

It also said she phoned her husband immediately after the incident to tell him what happened. Mr. Werbes then told police his wife had thrown Kaya off the bridge.

The affidavit says Ms. Hama changed her story several times during questioning at RCMP headquarters in North Vancouver.

She has said the baby fell over the bridge railing when she slipped. Jovan was with her at the time, holding her hand.

Ms. Hama was confronted by a group of reporters outside her west-side condominium shortly before noon. At first she appeared relaxed, making no effort to evade reporters and camera crews. But after a short stop inside her condominium, she emerged appearing stressed and was upset with questions about her daughter.

"I don't like speaking to you," she told one reporter. "You're annoying me."

In another development, the B.C. Law Society said it is reviewing Mr. Werbes's status after he was found guilty of contempt of court in June for failing to abide by court-ordered maintenance payments.

Ms. Hama and Mr. Werbes separated three months before Kaya was born, when Ms. Hama was 37. The police affidavit alleged that Ms. Hama was traumatized by Kaya's birth as a result of her Down syndrome and was treated for depression.

Ms. Hama's marriage to Mr. Werbes, registered in Las Vegas in 1996, was her fifth.

The Syrian-born Palestinian's first marriage was to Michel Julien, a resident of Hull, Que., who met her while vacationing in Beirut. She came to Canada after the marriage in 1985. Only months after her arrival, Mr. Julien filed for an uncontested divorce.

After moving to Vancouver, Ms. Hama worked in several video stores and as an esthetician.

One of her subsequent marriages was to then video-store owner Majid Behjati.
With reports from Robert Matas, Ann Gibbon, Wendy Stueck and Ingrid Peritz in Montreal.

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