Six Greek MPs belonging to the extreme-right Golden Dawn party were set to appear in court starting on Tuesday to face charges of forming a criminal organisation as the government moved to cut off the group's funding.
Leaders of the extreme-right Greek party Golden Dawn were appearing in court on Tuesday, where they were expected to be formally charged with serious criminal charges as authorities moved to dismantle a one-time fringe group that now counts 18 members of parliament.
Four Golden Dawn MPs were likely to face charges of forming a criminal organisation on Tuesday, with party chief Nikos Michaloliakos and his deputy, Christos Pappas, scheduled to appear before judges on Wednesday and Thursday.
Athens began cracking down on the neo-Nazi party after a self-avowed Golden Dawn supporter stabbed anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas to death two weeks ago.
“The evidence is really piling up against Golden Dawn. The witnesses have now started testifying,” said FRANCE 24’s correspondent Nathalie Savaricas from Athens. “Yesterday we had the girlfriend of the 34-year-old rapper that was murdered come out with strong words, even accusing police of total inaction while her boyfriend was being stabbed to death.”
“The secret service is coming out with logs and logs of telephone conversations between the perpetrator of that stabbing and Golden Dawn MPs. They have released diagrams reconstructing the telephone calls between the lawmaker themselves and the attacker just minutes after he killed Pavlos Fyssas,” she added.
Prosecutors are also investigating the party for links to about 30 violent attacks in all. Former Golden Dawn members have confessed to participating in organised “assault militias” in which they would ride the streets on motorbikes, hitting immigrants with sticks, according to the Greek press on Monday.
Prosecutors say leaders were well-aware of attacks, with orders flowing from the top to local branches in a strictly-respected hierarchical structure.
Besides the six lawmakers arrested, 14 other members of the party and two police officers with alleged sympathies with Golden Dawn have been taken into custody. Warrants have been issued for 10 other people.
The party, which was founded in 1987 but only won its first seats in Parliament last year, has denied any connection to the rapper's death and rejects the neo-Nazi label.
‘Uprooting’ Golden Dawn
An outright ban of a political party is difficult under Greek law, but Athens is preparing at least two bills meant to undermine the anti-immigration party by cutting off its money flows and dismantling its leadership.
The Greek government submitted draft legislation to Parliament late Monday aimed at cutting state funding to the party. The proposed legislation would suspend state funding for a party if any members of its leadership or lawmakers are being prosecuted for felonies.
With 18 lawmakers in the 300-member Parliament, the Golden Dawn is slated to receive more than 873,000 euros in 2013.
“We are dedicated in completely eradicating such a shame,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said in a speech to the American Jewish Committee in New York on Monday. On several occasions in his speech, Samaras used the word “deracinate”, meaning uproot, to describe his government's goal.
“Democracy cannot be funding its opponents,” deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos, head of Greece's socialist party, told a news conference in Athens.
“(Payment) suspension mechanisms will be put into effect” ahead of the Golden Dawn court trials, he said.
Date created : 2013-10-01