Brussels Jewish Museum murders: Mehdi Nemmouche guilty

A Frenchman has been found guilty of murdering four people at the Brussels Jewish Museum. Mehdi Nemmouche shot dead two Israeli tourists, a volunteer worker and a receptionist in May 2014. Prosecutors said he fought in Syria for a jihadist group before returning to Europe to carry out the attack. The two-month-long trial involved apparent witness intimidation and testimony from former prisoners of the Islamic State group in Syria. Source: BBC

Russia laws ban ‘disrespect’ of government and ‘fake news’

Russia’s parliament has passed two bills outlawing « disrespect » of authorities and the spreading of what the government deems to be « fake news ». The first ban refers to « blatant disrespect » of the state, its officials and Russian society, and repeat offenders face up to 15 days in jail. The second bill prohibits sharing « false information of public interest, shared under the guise of fake news, » the TASS state news agency reported. Both new crimes carry heavy fines. Artists on Russia’s culture, identity and…

Phillipe Barbarin: French cardinal guilty of abuse cover-up

France’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, has been handed a six-month suspended sentence for his role in covering up the sexual abuse of minors. Cardinal Barbarin was found guilty of not reporting allegations of assaults by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s. He denied the charges and his lawyers say he will appeal against the verdict. Cardinal Barbarin’s sentencing comes as the Catholic Church battles a fresh wave of abuse scandals. During the trial, he told the court: « I cannot see what I am guilty…

Cern cuts ties with ‘sexist’ scientist Alessandro Strumia

The European particle physics research centre Cern has cut ties with the scientist who said that women were less able at physics than men. Cern has decided not to extend Professor Alessandro Strumia’s status of guest professor. The decision follows an investigation into comments, first reported by BBC News, made by Prof Strumia at a Cern workshop on gender equality. Prof Strumia told BBC News that he stood by his remarks. « Some people hated hearing about higher male variance: this idea comes from Darwin, like other offensive ideas that…

UK asked for fresh Brexit plan in 48 hours

The UK has been urged to table fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to break the Brexit impasse. EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if « acceptable » ideas were received by Friday to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop. The UK has said « reasonable » proposals to satisfy MPs’ concerns about being tied to EU rules had already been made. It comes as Jeremy Corbyn has met Conservative MPs to discuss possible alternatives to the PM’s deal. The Labour leader held talks…

Putin: Russia foiled work of almost 600 spies

President Vladimir Putin has accused foreign intelligence services of beefing up activities in Russia, announcing that hundreds of spies were stopped in 2018 alone. Without going into details, he said « 129 staff members and 465 agents of foreign special services were foiled ». Russian spies have themselves been accused of several plots, including the poisoning of ex-agent Sergei Skripal. Dutch, Czech and Swedish intelligence all say they have foiled attacks. Russia has also been accused by the West of trying to interfere in elections. Without naming Russia, the president…

France Chiolo stabbing: Guards protest after jail ‘terror attack’

French prison guards blocked access to 18 prisons on Wednesday after an inmate in the north of the country wounded two guards in what the justice minister said was a terrorist attack. Michaël Chiolo was apparently given a knife when his female partner visited a high-security jail in Normandy. They barricaded themselves into a family-visiting area before police eventually moved in. Unions called for action at all prisons over safety and staffing. France has for years had to grapple with the spread of jihadism in its jail system. The head…

Dead landscape gardener linked to booby traps in Germany

German police are searching for anyone who knew a landscape gardener who may have targeted them by laying booby traps before he died. Bernhard Graumann, 59, was found dead on Friday. Police believe he may be behind an explosive trap that killed a 64-year-old doctor on the same day. Two other people with connections to Graumann were injured by an exploding piece of firewood in their home. Those who think Graumann held a grudge against them should contact the police. Bernhard Graumann, from the small town of Mehlingen in western…

Inmate Michaël Chiolo wounds guards at France’s Condé-sur-Sarthe prison

A prison inmate in northern France has seriously wounded two guards in a knife attack, in what French ministers have described as a « terrorist incident ». Michaël Chiolo was later detained in a police raid carried out on Tuesday evening. He and his female partner, who was visiting him, had been barricaded in the family-visiting area of a Normandy high-security prison since the morning. Both were shot by police, and she is now said to have died of her wounds. One of the guards suffered a serious abdominal wound,…

French customs agents disrupt Calais port ahead of Brexit

Traffic jams built up on Tuesday around the French port of Calais as customs officers worked to rule, carrying out tighter checks on lorries heading for the Channel Tunnel and the ferry port. The action, which began on Monday, is aimed at improving pay and staff numbers ahead of the UK’s expected departure from the EU on 29 March. Dunkirk, further up the French coast, is also affected. « Brexit is a catalyst for deeper anger, » said one union official. How bad is the congestion? The A16 motorway near…

Belgium anti-Semitism row over stereotyped Jews in carnival float

A float featuring stereotyped Jewish figures at a carnival near Brussels has been widely criticised as anti-Semitic. The float in the town of Aalst, 25km (15 miles) from the European Parliament, featured the grinning figures of Orthodox Jews standing on large piles of money. Local Jewish organisations said it was « typical of Nazism of 1939 ». « In a democratic country like Belgium, this has no place in 2019, carnival or not, » they said. The Coordinating Committee of Jewish Organisations of Belgium and the Forum of Jewish Organisations…

Hungary’s Orban faces exclusion from EU centre-right group

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban faces being kicked out of Europe’s largest political group after months of anti-EU rhetoric. The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) has started an exclusion process which would remove him and his Fidesz party from the group. Twelve political parties in the EPP requested the move, which will now go to a full vote in two weeks’ time. It follows months of tension between Mr Orban and some of his EU colleagues. Recently, Mr Orban’s anti-EU rhetoric has targeted senior members of the EPP – the…

Czech man mauled to death by lion he kept in back yard

A man has been mauled to death by a lion caged at his family home in the eastern Czech Republic. Michal Prasek owned the nine-year-old big cat and another lioness for breeding, reportedly drawing concern from local residents. Mr Prasek’s father found his body in the lion’s cage and told local media it had been locked from the inside. The animals – living in separate pens – were shot dead by police called to the scene. A police spokesperson told local media that the shootings were « absolutely necessary for…

Macron calls for EU renaissance ahead of polls

French President Emmanuel Macron has proposed a series of reforms to ensure the future of the European Union. In an opinion piece being published around Europe, he calls for the creation of an agency to protect the bloc against cyber-attacks. Ahead of the European elections due to take place in May, he advocates a ban on the financing of European political parties by foreign powers. He also calls for the reform of the passport-free Schengen area. All those who want to belong to Schengen should accept both stricter controls on…

Pius XII: Vatican to fully open secret wartime archives

Pope Francis has said the Roman Catholic Church will open up its archives on Pius XII, who was Pope during World War Two. Pius, who was Pope from 1939 to 1958, has been accused of tolerating the rise of Nazi Germany and of not doing enough to protect Jews during the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked behind the scenes to try to protect Jews. Jewish groups, which have been calling for full access to the archives for years, have welcomed the move. Pope Francis said the archives would be…

US ends diplomatic protocol tiff with EU

The United States has ended a spat with the European Union over diplomatic protocol that came amid heightened tensions over trans-Atlantic trade. US ambassador Gordon Sondland said the bloc was « one of America’s most valuable partners in ensuring global security and prosperity ». The dispute surfaced in January over an apparent downgrading of the EU’s diplomatic status. The EU said it was pleased the US had decided « to revert to usual practice ». What went wrong? Early this year it emerged that the US had changed the way…

French teen deaths spark riots in Grenoble

Rioters clashed with police in the eastern French city of Grenoble on Sunday night after two teenagers died in a collision with a coach while they were being chased by police. The teenagers, aged 17 and 19, ran into a coach on a bridge as they fled by scooter late on Saturday evening. Neither had been wearing a helmet, reports say. Youths set up barricades and threw petrol bombs at police and set fire to cars in the centre of the city. Tensions were high for a second night running…

Estonia general election: Reform party beats Centre rivals

The centre-right Reform party has won Estonia’s general election, beating the ruling Centre party. Reform, led by former MEP Kaja Kallas, took about 29% of the vote to 23% for Centre in Sunday’s ballot. Meanwhile the far-right Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE), which has called for a referendum on EU membership, came a close third. Ms Kallas – set to be Estonia’s first female prime minister – said all coalition options were on the table. Speaking to public broadcaster ETV however she insisted EKRE were « not a choice…

Milan anti-racism march draws « hundreds of thousands »

Huge crowds have gathered in the northern Italian city of Milan to protest against racism. Organisers said about 200,000 people turned out in the city in Lombardy, a region where the right-wing populist League party has strong support. Campaigners say the government promotes fear and hatred to spread division. Deputy prime minister and League leader Matteo Salvini says the government’s new immigration policies will « make Italy safer ». Italy government backs ‘anti-migrant’ bill Migration to Europe in charts A decree issued in September makes it easier to deport migrants…

Real Madrid 0-1 Barcelona: Rakitic sends Barca 10 points clear in La Liga

Barcelona moved 10 points clear at the top of La Liga after a second El Clasico win in four days, Ivan Rakitic’s goal all but ending Real Madrid’s faint title hopes. Rakitic kept his composure to beat Thibaut Courtois after a one-two with Sergi Roberto split Real’s defence. Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane were denied towards the end but Real rarely looked like equalising at the Bernabeu. They are third in the table, 12 points behind Barcelona with 12 games left. Atletico Madrid, who are second, will cut Barca’s lead…

France anti-Semitism: Strasbourg Jewish memorial vandalised

A memorial stone at the site of Strasbourg’s old synagogue has been vandalised, the deputy mayor of the eastern French city says. Alain Fontanel tweeted a picture of the marble slab after it was knocked off its plinth, calling the attack a « new act of anti-Semitism in our city ». The memorial stands at the site of the synagogue, which was burned down by the Nazis in September 1940. Last month dozens of graves were desecrated at a nearby Jewish cemetery. Swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans were spray-painted on the…

Brexit: Spain to give Britons rights under no deal

Spain’s cabinet has approved measures for Britons living in Spain to continue there as now if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the main purpose was that no-one, British or Spanish, would be left unprotected. He was speaking amid reports that the measures, which would become law under a no-deal Brexit, would grant residency rights to up to 400,000 UK citizens. UK MPs have so far rejected PM Theresa May’s withdrawal deal with the EU. That raises the prospect of the UK leaving…

Feminine job titles get go-ahead in France

Decades after other French-speaking countries adopted feminine names for professions, the official guardians of the language in France have also backed the change. The Académie française, whose members are known as « immortals », has said it has no obstacle in principle to such a « natural evolution » of French. Feminine forms for jobs like prosecutor or firefighter are already often used. But until recently the academy objected to such changes as « barbaric ». Row over ‘sexist’ language riles France Why do some job adverts put women off…

Brexit: EU rejects no deal citizens rights call

The EU has rejected calls for an agreement to protect UK and EU expats’ rights, if there is a no-deal Brexit. Tory MP Alberto Costa quit his government job to table an amendment calling for the protections. It was backed by the government in votes on Wednesday, with Mr Costa urging the PM to write to EU chiefs to demand an agreement on rights. But the European Commission said it would « not negotiate mini deals » as it would imply negotiations had failed. Theresa May’s withdrawal deal includes pledges…

Eurotunnel challenges ‘secretive’ Brexit ferry deals

The government is facing a court challenge over the contracts it awarded to three shipping firms as part of its no-deal Brexit preparations. Eurotunnel, which operates railway services between the UK and France, says the contracts were handed out in a « secretive » way. The firm says it was not given the chance to compete and wants the contracts quashed. The case, which starts on Friday, is expected to conclude next week. ‘Extreme urgency’ At the end of December, the Department for Transport (DfT) contracted three suppliers – Brittany…

Rise in net UK migration from outside EU

Net migration to the UK from countries outside the European Union has hit its highest level for 15 years, the Office for National Statistics says. Figures show 261,000 more non-EU citizens came to the UK than left in the year ending September 2018 – the highest since 2004. In contrast, net migration from EU countries has continued to fall to a level last seen in 2009. The figures are the last set before the UK is due to leave the EU next month. And separate figures released by the Home…

Air-France KLM: Dutch surprise France buying airline stake

France has said it was taken by surprise by the Dutch government’s sudden purchase of a 12.68% stake in Air France-KLM. Shares in the airline company fell by 11% on Wednesday, after the Netherlands government said late on Tuesday it was acting to protect « Dutch interests ». The Dutch aim to match France’s 14.3% stake in the airline. French Finance Minister Bruno Maire has warned it should be « managed without national public interference ». According to French reports, the government in Paris was informed of the Dutch move…

Decathlon cancels sports hijab sale in France

French sportswear retailer Decathlon has scrapped plans to sell a hijab for women runners in France following a public outcry. The firm said it had decided to suspend the product following « a wave of insults » and « unprecedented threats ». French politicians said the « running hijab » contradicted the country’s secular values, and some lawmakers suggested a boycott of the brand. Decathlon initially stood by the hijab, which is already for sale in Morocco. The issues of how Muslim women dress in public has often stoked controversy…

Brexit: May tells MPs ‘do your duty’ ahead of fresh votes

MPs will have their say on the next steps for Brexit later as Theresa May urges them to « do their duty ». Writing in the Daily Mail, the prime minister said the UK remained « firmly on course » to leave the EU with a deal « if MPs hold their nerve ». A number of amendments to the government negotiating strategy will be voted on in the Commons on Wednesday. The votes are not on Mrs May’s Brexit deal itself, but they will show what support she can…

Theresa May to offer MPs no-deal Brexit vote

Theresa May is to promise MPs a vote on ruling out a no-deal Brexit or delaying the UK’s departure, if they reject her deal next month. Theresa May is making a statement to MPs on Brexit, amid the threat of a revolt by Remain-supporting ministers. The prime minister is expected to promise MPs a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal by 12 March. She is attempting to head off a rebellion from senior ministers including Home Secretary Amber Rudd. The BBC’s Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May would allow…