An Athens court has found seven former parliamentarians who founded the neo-Nazi far-right political party Golden Dawn guilty of leading a criminal organization after a five-year marathon trial.
More than 2,000 police officers were ready for the verdict in one of the most high-profile trials in modern Greek history. After reading the decision, they fired tear gas at more than 10,000 people gathered outside.
The trial examined the fate of 68 defendants, including 18 former lawmakers from the extreme right-wing extremist party which became Greece’s third largest political party at the height of the country’s economic crisis in the early 2000s. chanted: “The people demand that the Nazis be imprisoned.”
The trial closed four cases – including the fatal stabbing of Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas, attacks on migrants and left-wing activists, and whether the political party operated as a criminal organization.
Nikos Michaloliakos, Ilias Kasidiaris, Yiannis Lagos, Giorgos Germenis, Ilias Panagiotaros, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Nikos Papas were found guilty of leading a criminal organization and 11 other former parliamentarians were found guilty of belonging to a criminal organization.
Party leader Michaloliakos and other former parliamentarians face at least 10 years in prison for their crimes, which were committed while they were lawmakers in the Greek parliament.
During the five-year trial, the court heard testimony that the political party was operating as a paramilitary group, giving orders to small clans in neighborhoods who would attack groups and businesses. They also heard testimonies about how the group was targeting migrants and refugees.
Two years after the start of the trial, the prosecutor was forced to recommend the acquittal of many party members who were not active in the violence.
“The charges against the leaders and members of Golden Dawn, including the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, reveal a rift that exists not only in Greece but across Europe and beyond,” said Nils Muiznieks, Director Europe Amnesty International in a statement before the verdict. “The impact of this verdict, in what is an emblematic trial of a far-right party with an aggressive stance against migrants and human rights, will be felt far beyond the borders of Greece .
Members of Golden Dawn have denied the charges, calling them an “unprecedented conspiracy” to destroy the once powerful political party.
#Golden #Dawn #neoNazi #criminal #gang #rules #judge