Court Finds Greek Neo-Nazi Party a Criminal Group in Landmark Ruling

Court Finds Greek Neo-Nazi Party a Criminal Group in Landmark Ruling”

A Greek court has ruled that the far-right Golden Dawn party was operating as a criminal organisation, delivering a landmark verdict in a marathon five-year trial.

As well as delivering a verdict in the murder trial for Mr Fyssas and the trial of senior leaders of Golden Dawn, the court will also hand down judgements for two other assault cases allegedly involving Golden Dawn members. Others were found guilty of joining a criminal organisation.

A small group threw Molotov cocktails and stones, before police responded by firing tear gas and water cannons.

The trial wrapped 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.

Golden Dawn first won seats in parliament in 2012 and became the third-largest party during the country's crippling debt crisis as it gained supporters with an anti-immigrant and an anti-austerity agenda.

On Tuesday, before the verdict was announced, political parties across the board condemned Golden Dawn, with a spokesman from the governing New Democracy party, Stelios Petsas, telling Kathimerini, "New Democracy is and was a perennial adversary to every [force] that undermines the state and [political] normalcy".

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the verdict "ends a traumatic cycle" in the country's public life. "It's our duty to democracy to be here today, to show we are standing up against such criminal actions".

"Now, the independent judiciary is giving its own answer".

Giorgos Roupakias, a party supporter, was found guilty of the murder of Fyssas. Fifteen other defendants, none of whom were former lawmakers, were convicted as accomplices.

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"Pavlos did it. My son!", the late rapper's mother Magda Fyssa shouted with her arms up upon hearing the verdict. Five members of the group were convicted of attempted murder against Egyptian fisherman Abouzid Embarak, while another four were found guilty of attempted murder against Communist activists.

Those convicted of leading a criminal organization face up to 15 years in prison, and those convicted of participating face up to 10 years.

Roupakias faces life behind bars.

Security was tight at the courthouse, with around 2,000 police, drones and a police helicopter deployed.

The Golden Dawn members, including Mihaloliakos, were not present in court on Wednesday.

But during the course of the trial, the prosecutor recommended the acquittal of numerous party members for the criminal organization charge on the grounds of lack of evidence.

The killer, a former truck driver, confessed to the crime, but the attack sparked outrage and the charges that Golden Dawn was a paramilitary-style organisation that used beatings, intimidation and murder as tactics - all with the knowledge of senior party members. The far-right party lost its remaining seats in parliament in last year's elections.

"The accusations against the leaders and members of Golden Dawn, including the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, expose a fissure that exists not just within Greece but also across Europe and beyond", said Nils Muiznieks, Europe director at Amnesty.

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