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Human rights worker was "traumatized" by mistaken-identity arrest, lawyer says

Posted by Ralph Ranalli November 5, 2007 08:07 PM

neuer.JPG
Hillel Neuer leaves the Stone Hearth Pizza restaurant in Needham Center and is taken into custody by heavily-armed police.
(Globe staff photo by Yoon S. Byun)

NEEDHAM

The executive director of a Geneva-based human rights group was "victimized" and "traumatized" by his arrest after a tense standoff with armed police, his lawyer said this morning.

Employees of Stone Hearth Pizza in Needham Square reported that a jittery man who might have been armed entered the restaurant. Manager Maria Paranagua said the man kept checking the front of the building and changed his clothes in the bathroom. After receiving cellular telephone calls from off-duty employees that a murderer was on the loose, employees called 911, Paranagua said.

That report led town and State Police to essentially shut down the town center and deploy SWAT teams to rooftops.

About 20 minutes later, Hillel Neuer, the executive director of Geneva-based UN Watch, walked out of the restaurant. Police arrested him at gunpoint and charged him with disorderly conduct. UN Watch is a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations. Neuer was in Boston to deliver a speech, according to his attorney, David G. Eisenstadt.

Norfolk District Court Clerk Magistrate Salvatore Paterna dismissed the charges against Neuer, saying he reviewed police reports and found no probable cause to go forward. Officials confirmed that Neuer was not armed when he was in the restaurant.

After charges were dropped, Eisenstadt read a statement to reporters that said Neuer had been traumatized by the incident and that his reputation had been tarnished.

-- Ralph Ranalli and John Ellement

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