Saturday, 31 Oct 2020

Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party declared a criminal group and leaders facing jail following brutal murder of opponent

AFTER a five-year-long trial Greece’s neo-nazi party Golden Dawn has been declared a criminal group.

Thousands of protesters gathered outside the court in Athens today as judges gave verdicts to 68 defendants, in a case that stemmed from the brutal murder of an opponent.

The criminal inquiry began after anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death by Golden Dawn members in 2013.

Hundreds of witnesses gave evidence throughout the trial, which was delayed this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The court found seven of Golden Dawn’s former MPs, including the party founder Nikos Michaloliakos, guilty of running the criminal enterprise.

Prosecutors argued that Golden Dawn operated under a military-style leadership that encouraged beatings, intimidation and even killings.

Each MP found guilty will face up to 15 years in prison.

Presiding judge Maria Lepenioti announced that other members of the party were guilty of being part of a gang. 

They face up to 10 years each.

All MPs in the party deny the allegations saying they are victims of political persecution.

Fyssas's murderer, truck driver and senior Golden Dawn operative Yiorgos Roupakias, was officially convicted at the same hearing, having previously confessed to the crime. 

He is now facing life in prison.

The court also handed down sentences to 15 party members accused of being accomplices in Fyssas's killing. 

Outside the court, a crowd of 15,000 anti-fascist demonstrators gathered to hear the verdicts handed down.

Groups of protestors waved banners and flags that read “the people want Nazis in jail!”

Magda Fyssas, the mother of Pavlos, was seen cheering in court as the verdict was readout.

She continued her celebrations with the crowd outside.

“Pavlos did it. My son,” she shouted.

Police were deployed around the court in a bid to keep the peace however tear gas was reportedly thrown into the crowd when protestors clashed with police.

Judges also found five people guilty of attempted murder for attacks on Egyptian migrant fisherman in 2011 and found four people guilty of bodily harm for attacks on left-wing activists in 2013.

Golden Dawn was founded by Michaloliakos in the 1980s, with the aim of bringing military dictatorship back to Greece. 

At the time Michaloliakos described it as a patriotic party of ultra-nationalists.

The party secured 18 MPs in 2012, becoming the third biggest party in government.

The party ran on anti-immigrant and nationalist policies.

After they won almost 7% of the vote in 2012, supporters of the party attacked political opponents and migrants.

Golden Dawn no longer has any MPs in parliament.

The party has denied being neo-Nazi or fascist, though Michaloliakos has admitted to being a Holocaust denier and admirer of Hitler.

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