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News digest: 7 February 2013

Albania court to rule on protesters' deaths (Balkan Insight): "The Tirana District Court is expected to rule on Thursday on charges against two former Republican Guard officers, accused of the murder of three protestors in the 2011 riots"

AUSTRIA: Votivkirche: one refugee deported (Austrian Times): "One of the four refugees who had been taken into custody pending deportation has now been deported to Hungary. The asylum seekers staying at the church "Votivkirche" in Vienna said that they felt abandoned"

BALKANS: Region takes part in pan-European immigrant smuggling operation (SETimes.com): "Officials are hailing the results of a European-wide operation against human trafficking, which resulted in more than 100 arrests and included the participation of 10 nations." See also: Succesful action against people smuggling & illegal immigration (Europol press release)

CZECH REPUBLIC: Lower house not to reject presidential amnesty (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Czech senior opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) Tuesday for the second time failed to push through the proposal that the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, deal with the presidential amnesty and reject some of its provisions"

EU and Israel research crime-stopping drones (EUobserver): "The EU and a large Israeli military contractor are co-funding research to build drones that can stop moving boats and cars"

EU crime and justice measures of 'real importance' says Starmer (Law Society Gazette): "Failure to opt back in to EU criminal justice measures will hamper the UK’s ability to prosecute cross-border crime, making procedures ‘uncertain, cumbersome and fragmented’, the director of public prosecutions told peers today"

EU proposes new cybercrime reporting rules (BBC News): "Over 40,000 firms, including energy providers, banks and hospitals could be required to report cyber-break-ins under new rules proposed by the EU"

EU: Parliament debates state of democracy in Bulgaria (EurActiv): "The European Parliament debated for nearly two hours yesterday (6 February) the state of democracy in Bulgaria, a country described as the "weak link" in the EU and a threat to European values across the continent"

France calls for Mali handover to UN troops (France 24): "French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that France wanted a United Nations peacekeeping force to replace French forces deployed in Mali by April, incorporating troops offered by West African nations." See also: France action in Mali is real war, says Le Drian; Mali future debated at Brussels meeting (BBC News) and Romania to Join EU Force in War-Torn Mali (Balkan Insight)

FRANCE: Steelworkers clash with police in France (euronews): "In France, hundreds of steel workers scuffled with police near the European Parliament in Strasbourg. They are angry at plans to lay off workers at several Arcelor Mittal plants across the country. Missiles were thrown and the police responded with tear gas and pepper spray. At least one protestor has been taken to hospital"

GERMANY: The Philosopher and the terrorist: When Sartre met RAF leader Andreas Baader (Spiegel Online): "Jean-Paul Sartre's meeting with RAF leader Andreas Baader was long considered to be one of the philosopher's great missteps. A transcript of the meeting, which has only now been released, shows the Nobel laureate actually wanted to persuade him to stop murdering people"

GREECE: Fewer illegal immigrants cross the Evros (Greek Reporter): "An ongoing government sweep to round up illegal immigrants, Operation Xenios Zeus, has also deterred them from trying to enter Greece across the Evros River on the Turkish border, Greek police said." See also: Arrests of illegal migrants on Evros border plunge over last 6 months (Ekathimerini)

GREECE: MPs' panel votes to lift immunity of far-right deputy (Ekathimerini): "Parliament’s ethics committee on Tuesday voted in favor of lifting Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris’s immunity for prosecution in connection to an incident last year when he attacked two lawmakers on live television"

GREECE: Petition: In Greece, being a citizen and a human being is a felony! (Yper Kapetanopoulou): "We demand all the unjust charges to be withdrawn, and justice to be reestablished for Petros Kapetanopoulos as well as democracy. The whole Greek society should demonstrate against fascism in uniform acting against human rights by any kind of torture, molestation or humiliation. To have lawyers, UN, Amnesty international as well as all those who support human rights to bring to justice all those who dare to act in any arbitrary and fascist way just because they wear the uniform of power. These are issues that matter not only to Greece but also to the international community"

GREECE: PM asks for amendments to citizenship law (Ekathimerini): "Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on Wednesday asked Deputy Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou to proceed with a string of amendements with regard to a law allowing second-generation migrants to apply for Greek cirizenship in order for the legislation to comply with a Council of State ruling as well as with European legislation"

GREECE: SYRIZA demands action over claims school boy was attacked by ultranationalists (Ekathimerini): "Opposition party SYRIZA on Tuesday demanded action from local authorities and schools to protect students from hate crimes following allegations that a high-school boy was stabbed in the face on Monday as he arrived at his school in the southern Athenian suburb of Palaio Faliro"

Greek seamen end strike, return to work (Greek Reporter): "Reluctantly obeying a civil mobilization order issued by the government, striking Greek seamen went back to work on Feb. 6 rather than face the prospect of being jailed and even losing their jobs. For the second time in two weeks – as he did with striking Metro workers – Prime Minister Antonis Samaras issued the order which had been used only 10 times since the fall of the ruling military junta in 1974." See also: Greece orders seamen back to work on 6th day of strike (BBC News); Dockers protest against civil mobilisation at Piraeus (Demotix) and Government ponders civil mobilisation as sailors extend their strike (Ekathimerini)

IRELAND: Irish PM says 'sorry' for laundries abuse (Al Jazeera): "Ireland's prime minister has offered sympathy after an official report held the state responsible for sending many women and girls to the institutions collectively known as Magdalene Laundries, where they were subjected to a harsh regime of intimidation, prayer and unpaid work." See also: Girls were sent to laundry for not having train ticket and Penitents' long days of high-class laundry' and prayer recital (Irish Independent)

ITALY: Founder of anti-usury association sets himself on fire (Gazzetta del Sud): "Doctors said that the founder of anti-usury association SOS Racket Frediano Manzi was in stable condition after he was hospitalized for self-inflicted burns on Tuesday. Manzi set himself on fire in front of a central Milan police station after depositing documents and a letter explaining that he was going to commit suicide in the name of "all victims of usury". Physicians said that Manzi suffered burns on his arms and torso"

ITALY: President Napolitano says Italian prisons 'unconstitutional' (Gazzetta del Sud): "Italian President Giorgio Napolitano strongly denounced Italian prison conditions on Wednesday calling them "unconstitutional" during a visit to the San Vittore prison in Milan"

ITALY: Racist graffiti covers walls of Dolomite resort town Cortina (Gazzetta del Sud): "Police in the northern Dolomite resort of Cortina D'Ampezzo are investigating a slew of racist graffiti that appeared throughout the town the night between Tuesday and Wednesday"

MALTA: Tunisian who escaped detention jailed for two years (Times of Malta): "A Tunisian migrant who escaped from Hal Far detention centre and was re-arrested yesterday, has been jailed for two years"

NETHERLANDS: Eindhoven attack extradition decision postponed (Dutch News): "A decision on whether five youths wanted in connection with an attack in Eindhoven can be extradited from Belgium was postponed on Tuesday afternoon"

NETHERLANDS: Family doctors vote in favour of digital patient record system (Dutch News): "The national family doctors' association LHV voted in favour of supporting the new digital patient record system at a meeting of branch organisations in Utrecht on Tuesday night." See also: Opposition to digital patient records mounts, court case to go ahead (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: National tip hotline helps solve over 1,000 crimes, prevents 116 more (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: Police to use more decoy bikes to catch thieves and buyers (Dutch News): "The police are going to use more decoy bikes fitted with a track and trace system in an effort to catch bike thieves, free newspaper Spits reported on Wednesday"

Norway police used 'confession-friendly' interrogation techniques (The Foreigner): "Police interrogators deliberately employed controversial FBI-inspired methods to get interviewees to confess, a new article reveals"

Romania plans overhaul of constitution (Balkan Insight): "Romania's centre-left coalition, the Social Liberal Union, USL, has announced the setting up of a commission tasked with changing the constitution"

ROMANIA: New CIA rendition probe lists Romania detention (Balkan Insight): "Some 54 countries, including Romania and Poland, assisted in the CIA's secret detention and rendition programme in the years after 9/11 terrorist attacks, a new human rights report says"

Sweden looks to toughen laws against spying (The Local): "Counter-espionage laws in Sweden need to be strengthened, with a particular focus on refugees reporting back to their home countries, government investigators stated on Wednesday"

SWEDEN: Online refugee greeting takes Sweden by storm (The Local): "A small-town shopkeeper's folksy Facebook greeting to newly-arrived Syrian refugees kicked off a big-time media frenzy that continues to reverberate, making Bo Oskarsson of Kaxås our pick for Swede of the Week"

SWEDEN: Reinfeldt: minister's asylum stance 'wrong' (The Local): "Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has distanced himself from Migration Minister Tobias Billström about the need to reduce the "volumes" of foreigners coming to Sweden, explaining the Moderates' policy review stems from different concerns"

SWITZERLAND: Davos Puts Protests Behind (Inter Press Service): "Barbed wire and safety fences are dismantled, the police and army are withdrawn and freedom of movement is restored. The 43rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) ended last month with negligible protests against the ‘global leaders’"

UK: Britain to announce closer military cooperation with Libya (The Guardian): "Britain will announce it is has agreed closer military co-operation with Libya, as well as establishing new defence links to Somalia and Burma, as the armed forces begin a significant shift in strategy"

UK: Is crime really falling? Or are the police just failing to report? (The Justice Gap)

UK: Rod Richardson: the mystery of the protester who was not who he claimed (The Guardian): "The mother of the real Rod Richardson, who died at two days old, fears an officer assumed his identity to pose as an activist." See also: Brother of boy whose identity was stolen by police spies demands apology and Police spies stole identities of dead children (The Guardian)

UK: UKBA raid disrupted by Anti Raids Network (Indymedia): "On Saturday night, approximately 6-7 UKBA officers and around 4 police officers rushed into a West African restaurant at 8.55pm. The raiding party arrived in one white van and one silver van, licence plate BP55DCU. But this time the operation wasn’t going to take place in silence"

USA: CIA using Saudi base for drone assassinations in Yemen (The Guardian): "The CIA is secretly using an airbase in Saudi Arabia to conduct its controversial drone assassination campaign in neighbouring Yemen, according to reports in the US media." See also: White House silent over CIA drone reports as pressure builds on Brennan and US newspapers accused of complicity as drone report reopens security debate (The Guardian)

USA: Exile the Obama way (Al Jazeera): "Through utilisation of the federal No-Fly list, authorities are increasingly subjecting individuals to de facto exile"

USA: White House to release legal rationale for killing of US citizens with drones (The Guardian): "The White House has bowed to demands from Congress to release its legal reasoning for the killing of US citizens by armed drones in an attempt to ease pressure on John Brennan, the architect of the drones strategy, at his Senate confirmation hearing as CIA director on Thursday." See: US uses Tony Blair defence to justify drone killings (The Telegraph); How Obama transformed an old military concept so he can drone Americans (Wired) and Obama's memo on targeted killings is a drone strike on the law (Wired)


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