In a landmark verdict after a five year trial, the founder and leader of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, as well as six former party lawmakers were convicted of “leading and participating in a criminal organisation.”
The 68 defendants in the trial include 18 former lawmakers from the party, which rose to become Greece’s third-largest party in parliament from 2012 until July 2019 when Golden Dawn failed to receive 3% of the vote as required in the general election.
The trial was triggered by the September 2013 murder of anti-fascist campaigner and hip-hop artist, Pavlos Fyssas, in the port of Piraeus.
A self-confessed member of Golden Dawn, Giorgos Roupakias, was charged with the brutal murder.
Greek prosecutors said that 68 leaders, MPs and activists ordered or at the very least were aware of the murder of Fyssas. They are also suspected of other violent attacks, racketeering, attempted murder and illegal possession of weapons.
This in effect, prosecutors said, means that the neo-Nazi populist political party is actually an organised crime outfit.
The far-right party had members within parliament from 2012 until July 2019 when Golden Dawn failed to receive 3% of the vote as required in the general election.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would not normally comment on court decisions but said the Greek republic had first expelled Golden Dawn from parliament and now Greece’s independent judiciary had acted too. “Democracy won today. It is up to us that it wins every day,” he said.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou said the verdict was an important day for democracy and proof that Greek institutions were able to “fend off any attempt to undermine them”.
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor welcomed the court verdict. “This is a welcome and important decision and finally tells the facts as they are, that neo-Nazis like those in Golden Dawn are criminals, pure and simple,” Dr. Kantor said. “We hope other nations which allow similar neo-Nazi parties to run in elections and sit in parliaments will likewise proscribe parties which promote racist and hateful ideologies.”
“Today is a win for democracy and a defeat for hate and intolerance,” he added.