Court Finds Greek Neo-Nazi Party a Criminal Group in Landmark Ruling
i24 News – Greece’s neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was branded a criminal organization Wednesday, its leaders facing heavy sentences in one of the most important trials in the country’s political history.
The judgement came as police and anti-fascist demonstrators clashed outside the courthouse, on the sidelines of a large protest of some 15,000 people.
Reading out the verdict in a trial that took place over five years, presiding judge Maria Lepenioti said Golden Dawn founder and leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other senior members were guilty of running a criminal organization
Among those convicted was independent Eurodeputy Yiannis Lagos, who defected from the party last year; the party’s former spokesman Ilias Kassidiaris; and a dozen other senior party members elected to parliament in 2012 at the height of Golden Dawn’s influence.
Michaloliakos and other senior cadres convicted on the criminal organization charge face jail sentences of between five and 15 years.
The prosecutions were sparked by the late-night murder of a 34-year-old anti-fascist rapper called Pavlos Fyssas, who was chased down by a mob of Golden Dawn thugs and stabbed to death in front of a cafe in the western Athens suburb of Keratsini in September 2013.
The killer, a former truck driver, confessed, but the attack sparked outrage and charges that Golden Dawn was a paramilitary-style organization that used beatings, intimidation and murder as tactics — all with the knowledge of senior party members.
Golden Dawn was at its political peak at the time of Fyssas’ murder, having won 18 seats in the 300-seat parliament in 2012 amid anger over a financial crisis in Greece that discredited mainstream political parties.
Three years later, it also sent three deputies to the European parliament in another strong showing.
But the investigation took its toll, causing a number of senior members to defect. In the last election in 2019, the party failed to win a single seat.