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As SC Meets on Houla, Russia Calls it Murky, UN Deputy With Dubious Past?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 27 -- As the UN Security Council convened on Sunday afternoon about the killings in Houla, Syria, German Ambassador Peter Wittig on way in told the press it's appalling and that since the observers "confirm" the use of heavy weapons, a strong statement is needed.

  But inside the consultations, Inner City Press was told by sources, Russia referred to the circumstances of the killing in Houla as murky. The UK, a source continued, insisted that there was nothing murky at all. So it was unclear what type even of Press Statement could be issued.

  Meanwhile diplomats of various countries not only the Security Council trickled in: Syria, of course, but also Sudan and Norway, the country of General Robert Mood.

  Media reports quoted UNSMIS deputy chief Martin Griffiths. As Inner City Press exclusively reported on March 28 -- the same day as another exclusive that was on May 21 stolen without credit triggering moved to expel Inner City Press -- whistleblowers complained to it of Griffiths past and hiring.

Griffith worked for the UN then as the executive director of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD) based in Geneva, as is the Kofi Annan Foundation. Griffith was forced to resign from CHD after a CHF 3.8 million fraud was exposed in June 2010, and confirmed by KPMG.

Based on this, a well placed diplomat told Inner City Press on Wednesday, "Griffiths could never have been hired for this by the UN. But Kofi has forced him onto the team, and like the rest of them he's been given a UN contract and pay for at least six months, no matter what happens with the Syria work."

Before publication, Inner City Press sought comment from Annan's spokesman Fawzi, who to his credit responded with a not only a no-comment but also a confirmation, which still stops short of disclosing who else is on the team.

Inner City Press asked:

I am told that on the JSE team (but not known to me until today) is Martin Griffiths. I note that he resigned as executive director of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue amid and in connection with an embezzlement scandal. I would like your comment on this, on deadline, including but not limited to if a reference was provided from this previous employer, and what it said.

I would also like the name of the team, certainly all those being paid with UN money, and confirmation that they are receiving six month contracts and that Mr. Guehenno is now an Assistant Secretary General, for six months. Would this remain the term whatever the outcome or duration of the Syria work?

Annan's spokesman Fawzi replied on these:

"Mr Griffiths is a highly qualified member of the JSE's team on a UN contract. I am not going to comment on his previous employer. Mr Guehenno is at the ASG level and most of us have 6-month contracts. That's it for now."

  Inner City Press asked, Does this last mean that the full team, at least those being paid with UN money, will soon be disclosed? It still hasn't been. Watch this site.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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