A Greek court has handed down a crushing conviction against Golden Dawn, finding the neo-fascist party guilty of leading a criminal gang that brutally targeted opponents under the guise of a political group.
After a trial launched more than five years ago, the three-member tribunal headed by presiding judge Maria Lepenioti, announced that seven of Golden Dawn’s leaders were guilty of leading the murderous organization. Others were convicted of even the slightest charge of involvement in the criminal gang.
The judgment was greeted with joy by thousands of people who gathered around the heavily guarded court complex ahead of the verdict chanting “Nazis belong to prison”.
Many erupted into spontaneous applause when news of the decision hit the streets.
“It’s a very good day for the anti-fascist movement around the world,” said Petros Constantinou, a prominent anti-racist activist. “The decision will send a very important message to the far right in Europe. A conviction today is vital if we are to end the fascist threat. The evidence against them is overwhelming.
The hearing was the largest neo-fascist trial since the Nazis’ pursuit of Nuremberg after World War II. Two thousand police officers, many of whom came as reinforcements from the countryside amid fears of violent clashes between protesters and far-right supporters, surrounded the area as helicopters and drones flew overhead.
Former leftist prime minister Alexis Tsipras, who was in the crowd, said that after years of sowing hatred, poisoning Greek society and orchestrating deadly attacks, Dawn fanatics Dorée would finally face justice.
“They are not innocent. We all know that, ”he wrote on social media ahead of the three-member tribunal ruling. “Wednesday we should be here to shout it out loud. We owe it to the history of this country, we owe it to democracy, we owe it to our children.
The long-awaited verdict ends one of the longest court hearings in modern times.
All of Golden Dawn’s leaders, including former MPs, were among 68 defendants charged with murder, possession of weapons and operating a criminal gang while posing as a political group.
Those accused of leading the criminal organization face sentences of up to 15 years in prison. If he is found guilty of additional crimes, the prison terms handed down by the criminal court will likely be longer, although justice officials have said several days of court proceedings could pass before their official announcement.
The defendants vigorously denied the charges, claiming to be victims of political persecution. Michaloliakos, 62, a Holocaust denier and fervent admirer of Hitler whose neo-fascist beliefs began to take shape during the Greek military dictatorship of 1967-1974, described the Golden Dawn as a patriotic party of ultra -nationalists. The hardliners down the chain who have been linked to the violent attacks have been disowned by the leader.
Neither he nor any other accused was to appear in court for trial.
Right-wing extremists are widely accused of targeting immigrants, communist trade unionists, anti-fascist activists, leftists and gay men, culminating in the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a popular anti-fascist hip-hop artist, including the murder in September 2013 forced The Greek authorities must act. A senior party official, Giorgos Roupakios, confessed to killing the rapper.
However, the judges sitting at the appeals court, focused on specific cases, including whether the group was guilty of the attempted assassination of Abuzid Embarak and three other Egyptian fishermen in June 2012. .
Members of Golden Dawn have previously been convicted of the murder in Athens of a Pakistani worker, Ssazad Lukman, in January 2013.
The court, which examined evidence ranging from testimonies from victims and five former Golden Dawn members currently in witness protection programs to incriminating videos torn from the homes of party leaders, heard how the attacks have increased in frequency. after entering the Greek parliament in 2012.
At the height of the country’s debilitating debt crisis, Golden Dawn, riding a wave of popular anger with EU-mandated austerity measures, won 21 seats in the 300-member House to become the third force politics of Greece.
In the last general election in July of last year, the neo-Nazis narrowly failed to win enough votes to win parliamentary seats, with the party almost collapsing amid infighting and defections since then. .
“The charges against the leaders and members of Golden Dawn, including the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, reveal a rift that exists not only in Greece, but across Europe and beyond,” said Nils Muiznieks, director Amnesty Europe. “The impact of this verdict, in what is an emblematic trial of a far-right party with an aggressive stance against migrants and human rights, will be felt far beyond the borders of Greece .