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News digest: 18 February 2013

ALBANIA: Leaked US memo pans Albania PM (Balkan Insight): "The undated memo seems to have been sent to Prime Minister Sali Berisha after Serbia took down a memorial to ethnic Albanian fighters in the southern Serbian town of Presevo in January"

Bosnian torture victims demand rights law (Balkan Insight): "Eighteen years after the war, the Bosnian authorities must adopt an umbrella law that will provide basic rights for some 200,000 people who were tortured, victims’ groups insist"

Bulgarian revelations explode Hezbollah bombing "hypothesis" (Inter Press Service): "When European Union foreign ministers discuss a proposal to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov will present his government’s case for linking two suspects in the Jul. 18, 2012 bombing of an Israeli tourist bus to Hezbollah"

CZECH REPUBLIC: MPs want imprisoned lawmakers to lose pay, mandate (Prague Daily Monitor): "The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, supported two bills stripping imprisoned legislators of their pay and those convicted and sent to prison of their mandate, in the first reading Friday"

DENMARK: PET controls come with financial windfall for intelligence agency (Copenhagen Post): "While five million kroner a year will be set aside to keep an eye on PET, the agency itself will receive more than twice as much money to respond to any concerns raised." See also: PET controls too weak, critics say

EU: New platform tracks lobbyists copy-pasting their way into EU legislation (euronews): "A team of German journalists and developers concerned about data protection legislation have launched an online platform to expose the copy-pasting of lobbyists’ position papers into EU legislation." See also: EU Commission probed by ombudsman over lobbyists (BBC News)

EU: Romania immigration fears unfounded, experts say (Balkan Insight): "European fears of a mass influx from Romania in 2014 were unreal, a Bucharest conference staged by the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence has heard"

GERMANY: Angela Merkel wades into Amazon neo-Nazi row (The Independent): "Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government demanded an explanation from the online retailer Amazon Germany after a television documentary showed seasonal workers being harassed by black-clad security guards with alleged neo-Nazi links." See also: Amazon to probe German 'neo-Nazi' allegations (RTÉ News)

GERMANY: Forced out: A Berlin family's eviction sparks violent protest (Spiegel Online): "Violent protests broke out in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood on Thursday after a Turkish family was forced to leave their apartment for refusing to pay higher rent. Cars were set ablaze and demonstrators scuffled with police. The long simmering conflict reveals continued tension over the city's rising rents""

GREECE: Dendias orders administrative inquiry after left MPs claim they were beaten up by police (Ekathimerini): "Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias has ordered an administrative inquiry into allegations that two leftist deputies were beaten up by riot police during an anti-austerity protest Thursday"

GREECE: Disabled hold protest outside Finance Ministry (Ekathimerini): "Dozens of disabled citizens gathered outside the main offices of the Finance Ministry in central Athens on Friday to protest reductions to their salaries and pensions imposed as part of a broader government austerity program." See also: SYRIZA occupies Greek finance ministry office (Greek Reporter)

GREECE: Hellas Gold site targeted (Ekathimerini): "A group of about 50 unknown assailants attacked the Hellas Gold mining site located in Skouries, in Halkidiki, northern Greece, in the early hours of Sunday." See also: Arsonists attack Hellas gold mine in northern Greece (BBC News); Man arrested following arson attack at Skouries gold mine in Halkidiki and Skouries gold mine protesters' trial postponed until November (Ekathimerini)

GREECE: Police publish photos of suspected racist attackers (Ekathimerini): "Police on Friday published the names and photographs of two men arrested on February 5 in the Athens neighborhood of Haidari who are believed to have taken part in racially-motivated assaults organized by the ultra-right party Golden Dawn"

GREECE: Rendi police chief arrested for robbing migrant (Ekathimerini): "In the second case in as many days relating to an officer of the law intimidating migrants to make illegal gains, a high-ranking officer of the police precinct in Rendi, southern Athens, was arrested on Wednesday night after being accused by a Pakistani man of robbing him"

GREECE: Xenios Zeus sweep in Athens leads to 85 arrests (Ekathimerini): "A police sweep in central Athens on Friday as part of a crackdown on undocumented immigrants code-named Xenios Zeus led to 611 people being detained and 85 of these being arrested on a string of charges"

ITALY: U.S. military blocked by protesting moms in Sicily (Gazzetta del Sud): "Roughly 100 protesters in Sicily on Friday blocked vehicles for the second day in a row from entering the construction site of a contested US military satellite communications system"

Italy's migrant 'slavery' (euronews): "There is something important in the Italian election political campaign that some critics claim the authorities are refusing to see: tens of thousands of migrant agricultural workers. We focus on Calabria, where they have been coming for years, yet their arrival is still treated as a surprise – an emergency"

MALTA: Child asylum procedures ‘far from adequate’ (Times of Malta): "Procedures for child asylum-seekers detained with adults to challenge the results of the age verification process were “far from adequate”, according to the Jesuit Refugee Service"

Montenegro prisoners vow to continue hunger strike (Balkan Insight): "Around 500 prisoners at a jail in Spuz, on the outskirts of the capital Podgorica, launched the hunger strike in protest against what they believe are overcrowded cells, bad food, poor medical treatment and over-long trials"

NETHERLANDS: MPs back advisory referendums (Dutch News): "A majority of MPs on Thursday evening voted in favour of draft legislation which would sanction advisory referendums in the Netherlands"

NETHERLANDS: Schipol to invest in central 'security hall' (Dutch News)

NETHERLANDS: Several MPs will refuse to swear oath of allegience to new king (Dutch News): "At least two MPs from the Socialist Party have said they will not swear allegiance to King Willem-Alexander at his investiture in April because they are republicans"

SPAIN: Catalonia spy case company has dossiers on judges and politicians (El Pais): "The detective agency Método 3, which allegedly recorded a private lunch meeting between the head of the Popular Party (PP) in Catalonia and a woman who has accused the son of an ex-regional leader of laundering money in Andorra, is the object of a number of ongoing investigations by the National Police." See also: Catalan PP leader files charges against detectives who spied on her (El Pais)

Switzerland Checks Mercenaries, Partially (Inter Press Service): "The Swiss government has presented a draft law regulating the private military industry but critics argue the law is toothless"

UK: Can Google be sued for the content of blogs on its platform? (UK Human Rights Blog): "The Court of Appeal has ruled that in principle, an internet service provider that allowed defamatory material to remain on a blog hosted on its platform after it had been notified of a complaint might be a “publisher” of this material, although in this case the probable damage to the complainant’s reputation over a short period was so trivial that libel proceedings could not be justified"

UK: Deputy PCC Resigns (Criminal Law & Justice Weekly): "Hertfordshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Dr Rachel Frosh, has resigned, following a gaffe on Twitter. She had retweeted a post likening socialists to Nazis."

UK: Fuel Poverty Action protest brings Whitehall traffic to a standstill (The Huffington Post): "Demonstrators brought traffic to a standstill in central London today as they called on the Government to do more to help households struggling with soaring energy bills." See also: Anger at DECC as fuel poverty hits millions (The Independent)

UK: More IPCC investigations (Criminal Law & Justice Weekly): "Resources from police forces’ standards departments will be transferred to the IPPC so that it can investigate all serious cases, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced"

UK: Police commander: baton use on protesters' heads was 'superbly restrained' (The Meddler): "A police commander has described his officers as ‘superbly restrained’ after watching video footage of them striking down at protesters’ heads with batons during a student demonstration"

UK: Police spies: Met police calls in outsider to take over investigation (The Guardian): "The home secretary, Theresa May, has said revelations that police used the identities of dead children will be investigated by an independent police chief with an expertise in corruption"

UK: Power to Relocate Inquests (Criminal Law & Justice Weekly): "Coroners can now relocate an inquest if it is in the best interests of the bereaved and others, including witnesses, the Ministry of Justice has announced"

UK: Revealed: UK sells arms to Sri Lanka's brutal regime (The Independent): "Britain is selling millions of pounds worth of small arms and ammunition to Sri Lanka despite the country’s dire human rights record, The Independent can disclose today." See also: Britain's arms deals with Sri Lanka revealed (The Guardian)

UK: Royal Navy sends warship to Libya to showcase defence equipment (The Guardian): "Britain is trying to boost defence equipment sales to Libya by sending a Royal Navy warship to Tripoli to act as a floating shop window for security firms, amid concern in Whitehall that France and Italy are cashing in on the fall of Muammar Gaddafi"

UK: Theresa May criticises judges for 'ignoring' deportation law (BBC News)

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