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Murder of UN Afghan Staff by US Forces Covered Up Like Louis Maxwell, -UN Staff

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 26 -- When a UN contractor is killed in Afghanistan is killed by US forces, what happens? Nothing, an official spokesman told Inner City Press last week.

In front of the Security Council on July 21, UN public information officer Alexandre Dolivet approached Inner City Press, which reported on the October 2009 killing of the UN's Louis Maxwell by friendly fire from Afghan National forces.

It's happened again,” Dolivet said. “A contractor for UNOPS [the UN Office of Project Services] was killed in Kabul, this time by US forces.” Very little has been reported. On July 23, Inner City Press formally asked UN spokesman Martin Nesirky about this death. “Have you asked UNAMA?” was Nesirky's response, referring to the UN Mission in Afghanistan.

Mr. Dolivet is with UNAMA's Spokesperson's Unit. But Inner City Press demurred, seeking Nesirky's confirmation. More than 48 hours later, no response: to some, a cover up.

When a UN Security officer from Miami was killed by Afghan National forces last October, the US like the UN said very little. When video of Louis Maxwell's execution by Hamid Karzai's soldier became public, belated investigations began. But so far nothing has come of it, with the FBI delaying, and the UN constrained by “cultural sensitivity” given how many Afghans have been killed. Click here for exclusive Inner City Press story.

UN's Ban and Mistura, Louis Maxwell and UNOPS contractor not shown

In the light of the documents released by WikiLeaks, first to three elite papers then the public, the UN's and US's cover up of the death of UN staff becomes all the more important. Watch this site.

Footnote: the tale of Ban's arrival in Kabul for the conference is more detailed than elsewhere reported, but heard first hand by Inner City Press and footnoted here. Ban stopped in Tblisi for re-fueling, but the windshield of the plane was broken. Another plane was found, which arrived in Kabul 30 minutes later. Rockets had been fired, and so it proceeded to Bagram. From there, Blackhawk helicopters to the Presidential Palace,and 1 1/2 hours sleep. Sleep walk through the summit, fly back through Abu Dhabi. The costs of diplomacy...

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Probe of Afghan Murder of UN Staffer Maxwell Stalled by “Cultural Sensitivity,” Starr Says, Glitch of Karzai Firing

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- The murder by Afghan National Forces of UN Security officer Louis Maxwell last October is supposed to now be investigated by the Hamid Karzai government.

Inner City Press has learned that the Karzai administration has yet to do anything, and now that the UN is only half heartedly following up, for reasons of “cultural sensitivity,” as UN Security chief Gregory Starr told Inner City Press -- or cynical political accommodation, as diplomats close to the case put it.

Asked about the Maxwell case on July 14, Starr told Inner City Press, “The problem is, in many cases you're asking the Afghans to really follow up on one person. How many thousands of Afghans have died? So you've got to be sensitive culturally.”

Other UN Security personnel since interviewed by Inner City Press have expressed concern. “He's supposed to represent us,” as one put it, asking that his name not be used for fear of retaliation. “He's not supposed to accept the cover up of the murder of a UN staff, to suck up to the Afghans - or to the Americans.”

A UN Board of Inquiry report, still be withheld from the public and Mr. Maxwell's family, calls on the Afghans to identify the individuals who killed Maxwell long after an attack on a UN guesthouse, which Maxwell fought off.

When Inner City Press asked UN peacekeeping official Susana Malcorra for any progress, she said that the head of the UN Department of Safety and Security Gregory Starr had traveled to Kabul, and to ask him. But Mr. Starr has yet during his tenure to hold a press conference.

On July 14, Inner City Press waited outside the UN's ECOSOC chamber to ask Starr about the case. After six o'clock he emerged, and to his credit agreed to answer some questions from the Press. He said:

There's a joint investigation by the American FBI and the Afghans. We know Louis was killed after the attack. The circumstances of that are still under investigation. I spoke to the minister of the interior of Iraq [sic] myself and they are looking into it. I hope ultimately to find all the circumstances. There is the video. The problem is interpreting what really happened in that video. We're not an investigative agency. We've turned it over to the proper investigative authority.”

Significantly, Starr added as a concession, “I think there is a momentary glitch. The Minister of Interior was dismissed.”

UN's Ban swearing Starr in, Maxwell murder follow through not shown

After a pause, Inner City Press asked Starr about (non) answers it got on June 30 from UN envoy to Afghanistan Staffan de Mistura (video here) and from then Security Council president Claude Heller of Mexico, who'd led the Council's trip to Kabul (video here). Inner City Press concluded, it seems like the issue is falling off the map.

Staff considered it, then said, verbatim: “The problem is, in many cases you're asking the Afghans to really follow up on one person. How many thousands of Afghans have died? So you've got to be sensitive culturally.”

Not only other UN Security officers but also diplomats and non UN military personnel since interviewed by Inner City Press have expressed deep concerns. “They are covering up the death of this guy, because the UN and US want good relations with Karzai,” one said. “So if they go to Somalia, if the TFG [Transitional Federal Government] or Ugandan peacekeepers kill a UN staff, they'd cover that up too?”

  Perhaps Mr. Starr, and Ms. Malcorra's deputy Tony Banbury who asserted there was no cover up, but then ducked questions, will now provide more answers, including to the Maxwell and UN family. Watch this site.

And see cell phone video, here, esp. at Minute 1:01 to 1:04

 Click here for an Inner City Press YouTube channel video, mostly UN Headquarters footage, about civilian deaths in Sri Lanka.

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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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

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