Greek nazi Golden Dawn in turmoil
From Panayote Dimitras for Greek Helsinki Monitor in Athens
The main trial of the Greek nazi party Golden Dawn (GD) is well into its third year, the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution being completed in mid-November with the evidence of the protected witnesses. Only their voices were heard in court, as they were safely sitting in a room in the Athens Police Headquarters. As the trial is expected to last through 2018, it barely makes news even in Greece.
The autumn of 2017 was, however, full of other GD-linked news. First, on 1 November, one of the prosecution lawyers in the main trial, Evgenia Kouniaki, was attacked by a GD mob as she arrived at court and, along with a second woman attacked, had to be briefly hospitalised. Subsequently, police briefly detained and the released 25 GD members but the real perpetrator of the attack, a well-known aide to the GD leader, had escaped and thus avoided arrest and swift in flagrante trial. Instead, he will be the subject of a regular (and lengthy) criminal procedure [pictures from the daily Efimerida ton Syntakton http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/adiapseystos-martyras-o-fakos]
This incident apparently frightened GD as its lawyers successfully sought postponement of two trials scheduled for the next day, 2 November. GD chief Nikos Michaloliakos was on trial for incitement to commit an offence through an inflammatory speech in 2011 – revealed by a newspaper in 2014 – following which Greek Helsinki Monitor (GHM) filed a complaint to the prosecutor leading to Michaloliakos’ committal.
His lawyer, though, was “conveniently” injured on the eve of the trial which was postponed until 12 December. In an adjacent courtroom, two at the time GD MPs, Yannis Lagos and Nikos Michos, plus other GD members were on trial for a violent attack against a leftist premises in 2013. They, too, managed to get a postponement until 20 April 2018 by invoking a conflict of trials for some of their lawyers.
Michos was also in the news because he quit GD on 26 September claiming the party had been hijacked by enemies of Greece’s nationalist movement. On 1 November, he joined another, until then extra-parliamentary extreme right party, “Hellenic Solution” [sic]. However, on 9 November, he left that party too. Since the summer, at least a dozen other GD members, including former election candidates, have left the party.
On 28 September, GD MP Elias Kasidiaris was handed a suspended six months’ prison sentence for having incited violence against Roma people in an inflammatory speech in May 2011 in Aspropyrgos, an Athens suburb with a significant Roma population. It had taken a GHM complaint for the prosecutor to launch criminal proceedings against Kasidiaris, at the time hardly known to the public, as GD had not yet entered parliament.
On 8 November, Christos Zervas, a right-hand man of GD’s leader, was sentenced to seven years’ jail for robbery and dangerous bodily harm to a student mistaken for being anti-nazi activist because of his clothes, on 31 March 2017, outside GD HQ. The sentence was suspended until the appeals trial is heard.
On 9 November, Constantinois Kontomous, a member of a nine-person GD squad that, on 10 September 2012, attacked a barber shop owned by a Pakistani in an Athens suburb – injuring two persons and then threw a firebomb at the shop – was convicted on appeal as an accessory in attempted homicide, as an accomplice to robbery and as a perpetrator of dangerous bodily harm and arson, was sentenced to imprisonment for 13 years and 4 months, 11 months less than the initial sentence.
On 10 November, GD members Dihtapanidis and Panayotidis were convicted of causing dangerous bodily harm and carrying weapons on 7 November 2012 in a Thessaloniki suburb. The court then imposed a suspended prison sentence of 21 months. Their three victims, Communist Party of Greece members, were also sentenced for using violence in their resistance and attempt to disarm the GD members, being given a suspended prison sentence of 12 months.
On the other hand, on 1 November four anti-fascist activists were acquitted of charges for having beaten and thrown GD members into the sea GD members in Chania on Crete, in April 2013. A few days earlier, on 24 October, another anti-fascist activist was also acquitted of similar charges for attacks against GD members in the per-election period again in Chania in June 2012.
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