Knox Libel Trial: Europe's
Un-Free Speech, the EU's Reach
by Dan Ehrlich 

The parents of convicted murderer Amanda Knox could possibly wind up in jail if they ever again set foot in Europe.

Italy will try, in absentia, Curt Knox and Edda Mellas for criminal libel, a very real charge over there. And if convicted they could serve hard time.  But, as long as they stay in the USA they need not worry…the controversial European Arrest Warrants have little validity in America for the crime of speaking your mind.

The case being built against the couple is the latest in a growing list of bizarre, if not trivial actions, brought by European Union member nations. The way it now stands, any EU member nation can issue a European Arrest Warrant for any crime and demand extradition if the accused is in another EU nation. It's a great deal more problematic when non EU nations, such as the USA, are involved.

Under normal circumstances a nation receiving such a request would examine the facts to see if the type of crime involved would or would not be a crime in that nation. But, under the new rules, the extradition request has a force of law and only has to be approved by a judge in what may be a rubber stamping exercise.

As for Amanda’s parents, they gave an interview to the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper where they blasted the Italian police for brutality towards their daughter. The story appeared in Britain, where speaking your mind also isn’t a crime. The tricky legal point here is: How can Italy accuse the parents when they spoke to a British newspaper? And, shouldn’t the Sunday Times be in the dock as well for spreading the alleged libel? Will Italy also issue a European Arrest Warrant for the newspaper’s editor? And, what would be the UK’s response if this were to happen?

Of course, this legal absurdity in American eyes may be simply to keep Knox and Mellas out of Europe and silent. The Italians have enough legal headaches right now with their prime minister heading for trial. They don’t need more blotches on their legal system from a past sensational trial currently under appeal.

Yet, as time passes, it seems local European laws will rub the wrong way against some EU laws and human rights legislation. The reality is that what began as a common agricultural market has evolved into the Napoleonic vision of a United States of Europe, with hundreds of laws and regulations that in many cases nullify local laws. The goal now of creating a single trans-national European identity is a far cry from the loose free trade federation that took root in the 1960s.
EU Mimics America's Formation
The EU seems to have become a repetition of USA’s beginning, first as a loose confederation of states and then as a federal government ruling a growing collection of states. But there’s one big difference between the USA and EU. We evolved as one new nation with a common language. The EU is currently composed of 27 very old and widely diverse nations with almost as many languages. And, it has countless local laws that may vary greatly from country to country.

One of the most controversial is another law that restricts free speech. In Germany it’s a crime to openly deny the Nazi Holocaust happened. People have served time there for such offenses. Yet, this is only a crime in Germany. However, in the Internet age anyone seems to be fair game. Awhile back an obvious anti Semite from Australia with an Outback website dedicated to denying Hitler’s crimes was taken off a plane in London, arrested and extradited to Germany for trial.

As much as you may cheer that action, is it really what we expect of progressive democracies? True, Germany is a unique case given its history. But, the brash arrogance of the EU to pursue people in Europe for actions that may not have been crimes in their own countries is outrageous …especially when it concerns free speech; something I feel is under constant attack from the PC Police.

Now the EU is trying to adopt a law that would make it a crime for anyone uttering hate and racist sentiments. This would, as in the case of the Aussie anti Semite, allow any non-EU suspect to be charged if found in member nations. Such a law, as well meaning as it may be, would open the door to gradual censorship of any non-PC sentiments.
A Bloated Bureaucratic Empire
At the root of this is the first empire run solely by a bureaucracy, said to be 170,000 strong…larger than the British Army. The Brussels based EU government has no army or air force of its own, yet commands a 400 million population, and its still growing. However, few people making all the EU laws are elected. They’re appointees, often tied to vested interests. And they seem to multiply faster than mice as new countries join the union.

Gradually, through the years, the EU has been working to destroy the sovereignty of it members with laws covering just about everything from what herbs can go into Earl Gray Tea to fishing quotas.

Most recently a separate entity associated with EU, the European Court of Human Rights made a ruling that European nations had to allow convicts in prison the right to vote. Britain, a in a rare move, rejected this by a 234 to 22 vote in Parliament. The fallout from this has yet to materialize from an organization that now thinks of itself as omnipotent.

The catch with the EU is simple…any nation that votes to get in can’t get out. And its agrees to yield its sovereignty to EU law made by a bureaucracy that maintains its legitimacy with a elected parliament of sorts that virtually rubber stamps the laws made by non elected officials. The only exceptions are made to those countries such as the UK that had special opt-out clauses. Britain, for example, chose not to dump their national currency for the Euro.
European Court an EU Add-On
The European Court of Human Rights is a small section of what has become federal Europe. As with the EU, the ECHR is voluntary, yet binding on formerly sovereign nations. It's evolving from a good idea to major pain in the economy for cash strapped nations paying out more and more via lawsuits won in the ECHR after initially being defeated in a domestic courts.

The ever incrasing case loads handled by the court is angering several nations which see their own legal systems being overruled by a foreign court. Leading the fight to restore British sovereignty is the UK Independence Party, which has managed to elect 12 members to the European Parliament. Ironically, its main reason for electing members to that body is get the UK out of the EU, while trying to help protect British interests.

According to charter UKIP member and acrivist Paul Cadier, the 1600 cases per annum heard by the ECHR (where the UK is in the dock) is costing the UK taxpayer £2 Billion in compensation. “How many front line services are being sacrificed as a result?.” Cadier asks.

He goes on saying, “The gratuitous nature of the ECHR's verdicts are making austerity Britain seethe with indignation. While my Equitable Life pension fund evaporated, criminals will leave jail with a "compensation package” that would make my eyes water.”

And, this is but a small part of the impact the EU has been having on member nations. It’s been greeted with growing dislike among the wealthier members, who see their interest being harmed, along with the rights of their citizens. On the other hand, the less wealthy member nations are hooked onto the EU for its economic lifeline.

Countries such as Ireland and Greece are depending on the Union to help them weather economic collapse. And most of the former Soviet block nations that have joined see the EU as a better alternative to being under Russia’s thumb. There’s a lot of irony here, with many East Block nations waiting so long to break free from one harsh bureaucratic dictatorship only to voluntarily sign up for an even more bureaucratic authoritarian central government.

Which brings me back to Foxy Knoxy’s parent who probably had no idea of breaking any laws when they expressed their views to the Sunday Times. An offense such as criminal libel is something one might have expected in the old Soviet Union. One can only speculate if the decision goes against Knox and Mellas, what the ECHR would have to say if the matter is brought before it.

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