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News digest: 9 January 2012

AUSTRIA: Alleged racist attack leaves woman on train track (Austrian Times): "Austrian police arrested a man after he allegedly subjected an African woman to a tirade of racist remarks before pushing her onto a train track and then running off"

CZECH REPUBLIC: Czechs to leave for NATO mission on Turkish-Syrian border (Prague Daily Monitor): "Four Czech military specialists will leave for a NATO mission on the Turkish-Syrian border on Thursday to protect Turkey against the Syrian regime"

EU: Brussels wants answers on Dutch multinationals in Poland (Dutch News): "The European Commission is to ask Poland to clarify how it spends money from the European Social Fund ESF following claims that Dutch multinationals may have wrongly benefited, Trouw reports on Wednesday." See also: Dutch multinationals benefit from EU development cash for Poland (Dutch News)

EU: UK rightists oppose opening border to Bulgaria, Romania (Balkan Insight): "UK Independence Party says it will campaign hard against lifting restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in Britain in 2014"

GREECE: Life sentences sought for assault weapons use (Greek Reporter): "With a growing use of military assault rifles by robbers in a rising number of crimes across Greece, the government is proposing life sentences for the use of the automatic weapons, which have flooded into the country from bordering Albania, authorities said"

GREECE: Military in Greece is spared cuts (defencegreee.com)

GREECE: Riot police arrest 80 at central Athens squat (Ekathimerini): "Riot police units detained about 80 people after raiding a squat near central Athens on Wednesday morning"

GREECE: Three arrested over migrant boat smuggling (Greek Reporter): "Three men, believed to be members of a migrant-smuggling ring, were arrested after an incident on Jan. 5 in which 37 illegal migrants were endangered in a distressed boat spotted off northern Crete"

IRELAND: Gardai to make arrests over dissident republican display (Irish Independent)

ITALY: European court gives Italy year to improve prison conditions (Gazzetta del Sud): "Italy will have just one year to correct the degrading and inhumane conditions in its prisons, the European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday." See: Judgment: Case of Torreggianni and others v. Italy (pdf, French only)

Kosovo strengthens witness protection (Balkan Insight): "Kosovo has agreed to do more to ensure witnesses’ safety after repeated international calls for better protection"

MALTA: Immigrants admit trying to escape Malta (Times of Malta): "Three Somalis and an Eritrean were each given a six-month jail term suspended for a year for trying to leave Malta and go to Sweden with passports belonging to third parties on Sunday"

NORTHERN IRELAND: Belfast flags trouble: Plastic bullets fired at protesters (BBC News): "Police have fired plastic bullets during a fifth consecutive night of riots during flag protests in Belfast. The PSNI said weapons, including hatchets and sledge hammers, were used to attack police officers and their vehicles on Newtownards Road." See also: Police fire baton rounds in latest night of flag violence and PSNI face petrol bombers as Dublin braces itself for loyalist protest at Leinster House (Irish Independent)

Norway Supreme Court rules against asylum seekers (The Foreigner): "Judges decide an Iranian family has to leave Norway and refuse entry for a Bosnian one following authorities’ rejection of their asylum applications"

NORWAY: Unknown asylum seeker numbers up (The Foreigner): "Norway has granted 1,857 asylum seekers a classified status due to foreign policy reasons and security since 2004"

POLAND: Death metal star to be re-tried for insulting religion (The News): "A court in Gdansk has overruled a previous judgment which found that a rock star was not guilty of insulting religious sentiment when he ripped up a Bible on stage"

POLAND: New trial for Polish soldiers over Afghanistan killings (BBC News): "Four Polish soldiers acquitted of killing eight civilians in south-east Afghanistan are to go on trial again. The eight civilians, including women and children, died in the village of Nangar Khel when Polish troops opened fire on a wedding party in August 2007"

PORTUGAL: Abuse in Portugal's overcrowded prisons (algarvedailynews.com): "The number of inmates in Portuguese prisons exceeded 13,500 in 2012, the highest value in eight years, according to statistics from the Directorate General of Rehabilitation and Prison Services (DGRSP)"

SWEDEN: Terror-accused Swedes' US extradition 'a failure' (The Local): "Sweden's foreign ministry has labeled as a "failure" its inability to successfully bring two Swedish citizens home from Djibouti before they were extradited to the United States to face terror charges"

UK: Cardiff Five: Innocent beyond any doubt (The Justice Gap)

UK: EDL leader Stephen Lennon jailed for false passport offence (BBC News): "The leader of the English Defence League has been jailed for 10 months for using someone else's passport to travel to the USA"

UK: Immigration crackdown deterring foreign students, says universities chief (The Guardian): "The government's increasingly tough rhetoric around immigration is threatening to deter thousands of the best international students from studying at UK universities and undermine the multibillion-pound market in foreign students, according to the head of the group that represents British universities"

UK: Probation service 'revolution' means wholesale privatisation (The Guardian): "The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is to outline plans for the wholesale outsourcing of the probation service with private companies and voluntary sector organisations to take over the rehabilitation of the majority of offenders by 2015." See also: Grayling admits probation privatisation will not cut reoffending dramatically (The Guardian)

UK: Stephen Lawrence's brother lodges racism complaint against Met police (The Guardian): "The brother of Stephen Lawrence has launched a complaint against the Metropolitan police claiming that he has been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment after being stopped by officers 25 times." See also: Black teenager 'stopped 50 times' plans to sue Met police for harassment (The Guardian)

UK-USA: Drone Wars UK's review of developments in drone technology, use and the opposition movement: Part 1: Drones and the law, Part 2: A year of drone expansion and proliferation, Part 3: Resisting the drone

USA: 6 strikes, 8 days, 35 dead: The U.S. drone war in Pakistan is back (Wired): "The sixth U.S. drone strike in Pakistan in 2013 has killed at least eight people, as if to announce the impending arrival at the CIA of the drone campaign’s chief advocate." See also: If you thought Obama's drone godfather was powerful, wait 'til he's at the CIA (Wired)

USA: Bradley Manning granted 112-day reduction in possible sentence (The Guardian): "The US soldier accused of being behind the massive WikiLeaks publication of state secrets has been awarded a 112-day reduction in any eventual sentence on the grounds that he was subjected to excessively harsh treatment in military detention"

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