The United Nations reinstated the lone U.N. official who was fired over the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, after an internal appeals body ruled that he had done nothing wrong, according to a letter made public Tuesday.
Joseph Stephanides, fired May 31, received a letter in the morning that maintained he violated staff rules by showing preference to one bidder for an oil-for-food contract, but essentially acknowledged that the punishment was too harsh for the alleged infraction.
The letter, singed by Undersecretary-General for Management Christopher Burnham and dated Monday, said "the sanction that was imposed on you has been reconsidered in light of all the circumstances in the case and the principle of proportionality."
Stephanides had been scheduled to retire in September and the move gives him his pay up to that point, so he will not return to work. Deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe confirmed that Stephanides' firing had been overturned and said that Burnham signed the letter on behalf of U.N. Secretary-General &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/368/15407_nuclear.html' target=_blank>Kofi Annan, who is presently at a U.N. conference in Tunisia.
The Joint Disciplinary Committee, an internal U.N. appeals board, had ruled last month that Stephanides should be reinstated, issued a written apology and paid about US$200,000 (Ђ171,425) about two years' back pay for the emotional suffering and damage to his reputation caused by Annan's handling of his case.
Stephanides' lawyer, George Irving, said he was not satisfied with Annan's move and would take the case to the next step up the internal U.N. appeals ladder, the Administrative Tribunal. Unlike the disciplinary committee, its decisions are binding.
"They just maintain their decision that he did something wrong," Irving said.