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John Ashe Died at 61 in Freak Accident, ICP Asked For Ban Reaction

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 -- Five days before his court hearing on UN bribery charges, today former UN President of the General Assembly John Ashe died at 61 -- from a freak weight lifting accident.  We'll have more on this - the bribery scandal is not over, and how the issue is addressed in coming days makes a difference. John Ashe should not be another UN scapegoat like Babacar Gaye in Central African Republic.

On June 23, Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's spokesman why Ban had issued no comment on the death. UN transcript here:

Inner City Press:r  Does the Secretary-General have any statement on the… on the death of former President of the General Assembly John Ashe yesterday?

Deputy Spokesman:  Oh, well, certainly, he was saddened by the passing of John Ashe.  He is writing a letter of condolence to Ambassador Ashe's wife, and so that will express his sorrow at his passing and his condolences.

Question:  Sure.  President… current PGA [President of the General Assembly] [Mogens] Lykketoft in the statement that he put out said these charges hadn't been proven but that  he'd done some previous service.  And I know the incoming PGA had said that the John Ashe case is a serious blow to the UN.  So, I'm wondering, is there any nexus… either in his letter or here from this podium what's… what's your reflection on the way that this leaves the case still pending in the Southern District involving UN bribery?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, obviously, the case is a separate matter and I believe that that would still go on.  We will continue to cooperate as best we can with the relevant authorities as they go about their investigation into this.  And we certainly hope that they get to the bottom of this particular issue.

Haq said that Ban will be writing a letter to Ashe's widow -- whose book launch Ban attended and the DPI of Cristina Gallach put on UNTV -- but unlike PGA Lykketoft, Haq did not mention the corruption case.

Late on June 22, or really early on June 23, current PGA Lykketoft issued this:

"the President of the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft expressed his sincere condolences to the widow, friends and colleagues of the former Antigua and Barbudan diplomat John Ashe, who died of a heart attack on Wednesday.

Mr Ashe was the President of the General Assembly for its 68th session and had since October 2015 been facing criminal charges in the United States courts related to his term as President.

"Despite the many as yet unproven accusations made against him, Mr Ashe was for many years a hard-working and popular member of the diplomatic corps in New York and at the United Nations," said Mr Lykketoft. "I know that his death will come as sad news to the many professional friends and colleagues he made during his time here.

"We wish his wife, family and friends well as they come to terms with his sudden death."

" At 6 pm on June 23 Lykketoft's spokesperson issued a new release:

"Last night  we issued a statement  which attributed the cause of  Mr Ashe's death to a heart attack. That was based on an Antiguan media report  already online and one other source. It appears from subsequent media reports that the cause of death may have been different. Please find a corrected statement below and online:

 While many try to insulate today's UN from the open corruption of the recent past of President of the General Assembly John Ashe, and of Francis Lorenzo who has pleaded guilty, there is continuity to this UN scandal. This includes a revival of the Ng Lap Seng's old "South South News" team, with El Salvador ex-Ambassador Carlos Garcia and others, even as those investigating this UN corruption are evicted and restricted, and those covering it up are rewarded.

   On May 18, former President of the General Assembly John Ashe's new (May 9) lawyers informed the Southern District of NY of ongoing plea negotiations, letter below. Inner City Press asked UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric about the letter, on PACER, and also about what the UN is doing with regard to those who plead guilty to UN bribery charges.

Can they, as has happened, get back into the UN? Apparently yes, despite what the OIOS audit says. This is UN decay under Ban Ki-moon, related to his and his Gallach's ouster and eviction of Inner City Press which is covering it.


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