Greek Court Mulls Suspending Sentences for Golden Dawn Convicts

Greek Court Mulls Suspending Sentences for Golden Dawn Convicts”

The president of the three-member Criminal Court, Maria Lepenioti, reads out the sentences for those convicted in the Golden Dawn trial in Athens, Greece, 2020.

After handing down jail terms of up to 13 years for the leaders and dozens of members of the Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party on convictions of operating or being in a criminal gang, a Greek court is looking at suspending some of the sentences.

The court considered sentences of up to 15 years for Golden Dawn's inner circle.

The mathematician and Holocaust denier, who founded the party in the 1980s and ran it with an iron fist ever since, also received an additional one year for illegal possession of a weapon.

Golden Dawn was founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s and rose to prominence during the Euro financial crisis.

Other former lawmakers were sentenced to five-seven years in prison for being members of a criminal group.

A total of 68 defendants stood trial and 57 were found guilty on charges ranging from murder to extortion and illegal weapons possession in the period 2008-2013.

A search of party members' homes in 2013 uncovered firearms and other weapons, as well as Nazi memorabilia.

Anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas whose murder sparked the crackdown on Golden Dawn.     AFP  File
Anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas whose murder sparked the crackdown on Golden Dawn. AFP File

The crackdown was sparked by the late-night murder of a 34-year-old anti-fascist rapper called Pavlos Fyssas, stabbed to death in front of a cafe in the western Athens suburb of Keratsini in September 2013.

Arrest warrants will be issued as defendants in Greece, even in serious felony cases or major crimes, don't have to appear in court even for the verdict or sentencing.

Other former Golden Dawn lawmakers, including Michaloliakos' wife Eleni Zaroulia, received lighter sentences of between five and ten years. Roupakias was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday.

The authorities launched an inquiry into whether the party was a criminal organisation in parallel with the criminal investigation into the rapper's murder and into violent attacks on immigrants and left-wing activists.

As the trial dragged on, the party divided and former leading MPs Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris went on to create their own parties. The party entered the Greek parliament for the first time in 2012 after tapping into citizens' concerns about migration and austerity measures.

The party was represented in Greece's parliament between 2012 and 2019, having won the required number of votes in four separate general elections.

Under Greek law, they must serve at least two-fifths of their sentence before requesting an early release.

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