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News digest: 5 March 2013

BULGARIA: Protests and parades on Bulgaria’s Liberation Day (euronews): "Bulgarians across the country staged new protests against their political leaders and poverty on the day celebrated as Liberation Day"

DENMARK: Men charged with stealing documents about Nazi collaborators (The Copenhagen Post): "Over a thousand documents worth millions of kroner about Danish Nazi sympathisers were stolen from the state archives by two men over a three-year period"

EU council leader attacks UK plans to rewrite membership (The Guardian): "David Cameron has been put on notice that no other EU leader is likely to support his campaign to rewrite the terms of British membership of the union and then put the outcome to a referendum"

EU: Astonishing new research shows Nazi camp network twice as big as previously thought (The Independent): "The network of camps and ghettos set up by the Nazis to conduct the Holocaust and persecute millions of victims across Europe was far larger and systematic than previously believed, according to new academic research"

EU: Croatia ready to become 28th member of EU (Croatian Times): "Croatia is on track to joining the EU on 1 July, with 24 member states now having officially ratified the accession treaty." See also: No additional monitoring for Croatia (Croatian Times) and Slovenia PM-designate backs Croatia EU treaty (Balkan Insight) and Vecer sees dangers ahead for ratification of Croatia EU treaty (Slovenian Press Agency)

EU: Google's privacy policy: European data protection authorities are coordinating their enforcement actions (Article 29 Working Party press release)

EU: Romania demands explanation for Schengen veto (Balkan Insight): "Bucharest wants those countries that seem intent on continuing to block its accession to the passport-free Schengen area to explain their reasons." See also: Germany to Veto Romania’s Schengen entry this week, while Romania ‘might not be interested anymore’ (Romania Insider)

FRANCE: French police ordered to be polite at all times (France 24): "French police will no longer be allowed to call suspects the familiar "tu" (meaning "you"), and will have to address anyone they speak using the French equivalent of "sir" or "madam""

GERMANY: Luxury condos: Protesters block dismantling of part of Berlin wall (Spiegel Online): "In 1989, the crowds yelled for the Berlin Wall to come down. But, on Friday, hundreds of protesters stopped workers from dismantling part of the longest remaining stretch of the Wall so that a luxury apartment complex could be built." See also: Thousands protest to save Berlin Wall (The Local)

GERMANY: Preventing police brutality in Germany (Deutsche Welle): "Investigations into police brutality often come to nothing, in spite of the many cases reported every year. The problem is not the acts of violence, but rather how they are handled, experts say"

GERMANY: Racism in German military mirrors society (Deutsche Welle): "Naval troops attacked their superior motivated by revenge - not the officer's skin color, the Bundeswehr said. If racism is a problem in the military, it's because racism is a problem in Germany, a soldier tells DW"

GERMANY: Top politicians to get 'high security' phones (The Local): Chancellor Angela Merkel and other German political leaders with access to state secrets are to be issued state-of-the-art, high security mobile phones later this year"

GERMANY: Woman returns 8 years after shock deportation (The Local): "A Kurdish woman whose deportation to Turkey in 2005 was denounced by many as inhumane returned to Germany on Sunday to be reunited with her husband and two daughters, whom she had not seen for eight years"

Greece and France to sign defence deal (Greek Reporter): "French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Feb. 28 that Greece and France would sign a defence collaboration agreement, following reports that Athens would borrow navy frigates from Paris, according to Agence-France-Presse"

GREECE: "A promise from the army has been obtained to not intervene against a civil uprising" (New Statesman): "Explosive revelations from a former Greek diplomat."

GERMANY: The new guest workers: A German dream for crisis refugees (Spiegel Online): "A new generation of highly qualified immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe is seeking a future in Germany. Young, well-educated and multilingual, they are precisely what the German economy needs to ensure success in the future. The country has its work cut out if it wants these "godsends" to stay"

GREECE: Ankle monitor for Greek detainees, convicts (Greek Reporter): "The ankle monitor system – also known as an ankle bracelet – for detainees and convicts, including those given life sentences, is being proposed for Greece, under a draft law given at a public consultation by the Greek Minister of Justice Anthonis Roupakiotis"

GREECE: Golden Dawn says it will create nursery schools for Greek children (Ekathimerini): "Golden Dawn MPs have told supporters of the far right party that it will create privately-run nursery schools for Greek children"

GREECE: Golden Dawn spokesman Kasidiaris to stand trial over 2007 attack on student (Ekathimerini): "Golden Dawn MP and spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris is due to stand trial on Monday in connection with the mugging of student in 2007"

GREECE: Group claims February attack on Golden Dawn offices in Piraeus (Ekathimerini): "A group calling itself “Organization Zero Tolerance” has claimed responsibility for an attack on the offices of extremist Golden Dawn in Piraeus last month"

GREECE: Police name suspect arrested for racist attacks in Athens (Ekathimerini) "The police have published the detail of a 20-year-old man arrested on suspicion of four racist attacks in Athens." See also: Greek man arrested for immigrant attacks (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Violent protest against former ND minister (Greek Reporter): "The ruling New Democracy Conservative party has condemned a violent protest against former minister, Makis Voridis, ahead of a press briefing in Kavala, northeastern Greece, where workers of Kavala Oil stormed the hotel where the event was to take place and caused extensive damage to the premises, while Voridis remained in his room"

HUNGARY: Eight-volume new Civil Code made public for first time (Politics.hu): "Hungary’s new Civil Code, to take effect on March 15, 2014, was published in the official Hungarian Gazette on Tuesday"

HUNGARY:Fidesz MPs waver on plan to strip powers from Constitutional Court (Politics.hu): "Ruling Fidesz lawmakers have said they will reconsider an earlier proposal to strip the Constitutional Court of its right to refer to its previous decisions when making a ruling"

HUNGARY: Hungarian nationalists cancel Budapest protest against Ponta; claim fears of provoking Romanian secret services (Politics.hu): "Peace March organisers have cancelled a demonstration planned for March 9 against a visit by Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta, for fear of a provocation from the Romanian secret services, one of the organisers Zsolt Bayer announced on Echo TV Friday evening"

HUNGARY: Parliament to debate further constitutional amendments, media law in two-day session this week (Politics.hu): "Parliament will meet on Monday and Tuesday this week and lawmakers are to debate a prospective fourth amendment to the constitution, the amendment of the media law and reports on the privatisation of national airline Malev and the Budapest Airport company under the previous governments"

HUNGARY: Top Orbán confidante revealed as convicted “hooligan” as mayor assaulted by disgruntled voter (Politics.hu): "Árpád Habony, perhaps Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s closest confidante, was placed on two years probation by the Capital Court on May 4, 2011 for hooliganism, the liberal weekly Magyar Narancs reports"

IRELAND: Chief Justice Susan Denham issues warning over court delays (RTÉ News): "The Chief Justice has warned the failure to address the problem of delays in Ireland's appeal court system could damage society and the economy."

IRELAND: Former public representative has period of detention extended over conspiracy to murder charge (RTÉ News): "A former public representative who was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to murder has had his period of detention extended."

IRELAND: Two in court over Union flag protests (RTÉ News): "Two of the most high-profile Union flag demonstrators have appeared in court in Northern Ireland charged with a series of offences linked to the loyalist protests"

ITALY: Rome's authorities deny social housing to Roma's communities (Amnesty): "The new Italian government and municipal authorities in Rome must act urgently to end discriminatory policies which deny Roma communities access to social housing, Amnesty International said today"

Lithuania is preparing responsibly for EU presidency (The Lithuania Tribune): "President Dalia Grybauskaite. met with the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, informed lrp.lt. The meeting focused on the situation in Europe, topical issues for the EU, Lithuania’s readiness for the presidency of the EU Council and the key work to be done." See: Prime Minister discussed strengthening of the EU with the President of the European Council

Lithuania surprised at Estonian air policing statement to US secretary of state (The Lithuania Tribune): "Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius says he was surprised by his Estonian counterpart’s recent statement to the new US secretary of state on Tallinn’s aspiration to move part of the Baltic air policing mission"

LITHUANIA: Vilnius court hears complaint on nationalist rally, to hand down ruling Monday (The Lithuania Tribune) : "A Vilnius court on Thursday completed hearing the complaint filed by organizers of a nationalist rally who asked to annul the ban of the Lithuanian capital’s administration to march on central Gedimino Avenue on March 11 and provide a different venue for the event, with the ruling to be pronounced on Monday"

Macedonia leaders condemn Skopje ethnic riots (Balkan Insight): "Politicians expressed revulsion after two days of violent, ethnically-charged protests gripped the capital, sparked by the controversial appointment of an ex-guerrilla as defence minister." See also: Macedonia protest against defence minister turns violent

NETHERLANDS: From Wilders to Muhammad: Former Freedom Party vice-chairman converts to Islam (Amsterdam Herald): "A former member of Geert Wilders’s anti-immigration Freedom Party has converted to Islam"

NETHERLANDS: Smart energy meters could threaten privacy, warns McAfee (Dutch News): "The smart energy meters used in an increasing number of Dutch homes can threaten household privacy, Raj Samani, CTO at internernational security company McAfee, told website nu.nl in an interview."

NORTHERN IRELAND: Home Office minister to publish National Crime Agency 'Plan B' for Northern Ireland (The Detail): "British Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to publish proposals aimed at allowing the National Crime Agency (NCA) to operate in Northern Ireland, despite major Sinn Fein and SDLP concerns over accountability arrangements."

NORWAY: Wants more northern NATO-exercises (Barents Observer): "The same day as Russia’s Vladimir Putin warned his top commanders of militarization in the Arctic is Norway’s Minister of Defence, Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, inviting her NATO-allies to locate more exercises in northern Norway. Next week, a group of Special Forces from the U.S. Army goes to Finnish Lapland." See also: “Danger of militarization of the Arctic exists”

PORTUGAL: Eurozone crisis: Portugal protests against austerity (BBC News): "Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in protests across Portugal against government austerity measures." See also: Mass protests in Portugal over austerity cuts (Al Jazeera) and Austerity triggers novel protests in Portugal (ABC News)

Romanian Intelligence Service: MiniDuke cyber attack could be state sponsored, greater impact than Red October (Romania Insider): "The recent MiniDuke cyber attack could have been government backed and carried out by the intelligence services of a country. MiniDuke, which affected governments in several countries , including Romania’s, was most likely created by an entity which has the characteristics of a state, according to Romania’s Intelligence Service SRI. The cyber attack had an even greater impact than Red October, another cyber spy attack campaign discovered at the end of 2012, which had been targeting Eastern European and former Soviet countries for the last five years, targeting diplomatic representatives, administrations and scientific research institutes. The SRI did not offer information on the outcome of either of these two cyber attacks"

ROMANIA: EC drops case against Romania as data retention law passes (Telecompaper): "The European Commission (EC) dropped the infringement procedure on 21 February that it had opened against Romania in 2011 over the non-implementation in due time of the provisions of the directive 24/2006 concerning the storage of confidential data by communications operators as the Romanian parliament passed the so-called 'Big brother' law in May 2012"

SLOVAKIA: Affirmative action law could help Roma (The Slovak Spectator): "Slovakia's minorities received good news from parliament in late February when MPs passed an amendment to existing anti–discrimination legislation that extends the authority of those who provide Slovak-style affirmative action measures, as well as the scope of those who benefit from them." See also: Fico accuses minorities of 'blackmail' (The Slovak Spectator) and PM under fire over comments about minorities (The Daily.SK)

SLOVAKIA: Prosecutor, judges sue newspaper (The Slovak Spectator): "Images featuring a retired lawyer wearing blue ear defenders and holding an imitation assault rifle while welcoming Supreme Court judges, a law professor, a top prosecutor and two other judges at a bar named after a notorious mafia family provoked much controversy back in 2011 after being published by the tabloid daily Nový C(as. Two years later some of the participants in the party – for what they called the Judiciary Oscar Association – at the Bonanno bar in Rajecké Teplice are seeking damages totalling €940,000 from the publisher of the daily, Ringier Axel Springer Slovakia, while objecting to the media’s interpretations of the images"

SPAIN: Bárcenas scandal deepens as police investigate alleged theft (El Pais): "The escalating conflict between the ruling Popular Party (PP) and its former treasurer, Luis Bárcenas, took a new turn on Friday when national police showed up at PP headquarters to investigate Bárcenas’ claim that two computers and personal papers were stolen from the office he allegedly had there." See also: Mystery still surrounds the abortive inspection by police at PP headquarters and Judge strips Bárcenas of his passport after PP moneyman admits he held €38m

SPAIN: Court upholds jail sentence for sergeant who forced soldier to wear heavy chains (El Pais): "Sergeant Roberto B. believes that forcing someone to wear two heavy chains weighing six kilos for two days during off-duty hours is not a humiliating or scornful act"

SPAIN: Morocco, Spain discuss security partnership (Magharebia) : "Morocco and Spain are aiming to boost their partnership in the area of security. Moroccan Interior Minister-Delgate Cherki Drais and Spanish State Secretary for Security Francisco Martinez Vazquez met on Tuesday (February 26th) in Rabat to discuss bilateral co-operation. "

SPAIN: Muslims avoid jail after praying in Catholic cathedral (The Olive Press): "A group of Muslims have escaped prison after a fight broke out as they began praying at the famous Mesquita in Cordoba"

SPAIN: Police chief denies existence of reports on Catalan leaders (El Pais): "The police chief in charge of investigating illegal commissions allegedly charged by Catalan officials for public contracts has denied the existence of a draft police report incriminating current premier Artur Mas and his predecessor, Jordi Pujol"

SPAIN: The intellectual property black hole (El Pais): "As far as intellectual property is concerned, as T. S. Eliot once wrote, April could be the cruelest month - for the Popular Party government, that is. That is when Spain might be put back on the fearsome 301 Watch List, a compilation of "pirate countries" drawn up each year by the Office of the US Trade Representative. The influential entertainment industry is recommending that Spain be included again, after a year's absence."

SPAIN: The murderer who's working for the Spanish Civil Guard (El Pais): "Hellín Moro was jailed for killing a 19-year-old woman his far-right group believed was a terrorist"

SPAIN: Towns cannot outlaw burqa, says ruling (El Pais): "The Supreme Court has ruled that municipalities cannot pass laws that limit or prohibit the wearing of burqas. In a February 14 decision released on Thursday, the court said that municipal governments do not have the authority to "limit religious freedom""

SWEDEN: Outrage over Stockholm cops' 'racial profiling' (The Local): "Police in Stockholm have been accused of racial profiling on the city's public transit system by targeting "foreign-looking" commuters in an effort to deport illegal immigrants." See also: Syndicalists protest racial profiling targeting sans-papiers in Sweden (libcom.org)

UK: 43,000 strip-searches carried out on children as young as 12 (The Guardian): "A promise to end routine strip-searching of children in custody is being flouted, according to data revealing there were more than 43,000 recorded incidences involving children as young as 12 over a 21-month period – but in only 275 searches were illicit items found." See also: Children in prison: from punishment to protection (The Justice Gap)

UK: Al-Sweady inquiry opens in UK into deaths of Iraqis (BBC News): "A public inquiry will open later in London into allegations that up to 20 Iraqis were murdered after a gun battle with British troops in 2004." See also: Ten years on from the war, how the world forgot about Iraq (The Independent)

UK: Benefit tourist clampdown 'to affect Britons' (BBC News): "Government plans to clamp down on "benefit tourism" could see both Britons and immigrants affected by changes to the rules on entitlement."

UK: Everything you need to know about the secret trials coming to a courtroom near you – Angela Patrick (UK Human Rights Blog)

UK: Stephen Lawrence inquiry 'could have been turning point' for UK policing (The Guardian): "Attempts by the family of Stephen Lawrence to transform British policing have been undermined by delays, blunders and an establishment resistant to change, according to a key figure in the Macpherson inquiry"

UK: The 'secret agents' of the UK press (BBC News): "In December 1968 the state-controlled Russian newspaper Izvestia ran a series of articles accusing several high-profile British journalists of being spies - listing their names and alleged codenames"

UK: Tory ministers plot Human Rights Act repeal (The Guardian): "Senior Tory cabinet ministers have raised the prospect of pulling Britain out of the European convention on human rights, despite a pledge by David Cameron that the party will not lurch to the right in the wake of its drubbing in the Eastleigh byelection." See also: A 'betrayal' of British values: Tories accused of damaging UK’s reputation on human rights
(The Independent) and What would happen if the UK withdrew from the European Court of Human Rights? (New Statesman)

UK: Police spies: in bed with a fictional character (The Guardian): "He was a burly, funny scouser called Mark Cassidy. His girlfriend – a secondary school teacher he shared a flat with for four years – believed they were almost "man and wife". Then, in 2000, as the couple were discussing plans for the future, Cassidy suddenly vanished, never to be seen again." See also: How I met 'Rod', the suspected undercover police officer


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