The verdict was applauded in the courtroom, while outside the courtroom a crowd roared with joy. The founder and leader of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Nikos Michaloliakos, was convicted on Wednesday of “leading a criminal organization”. Among the 15,000 protesters in front of the courthouse, some threw Molotov cocktails, to which the police responded with tear gas and stun grenade throws.
Nikos Michaloliakos, 62, negationist and admirer of National Socialism, was found guilty of “leading and belonging to a criminal organization”, along with six other party officials. He was one of 68 defendants in the neo-Nazi party’s long-running trial, implicated in one murder and two attempted homicides. Only about ten of the 68 defendants were present in a sparse courtroom, with the main executives absent at the verdict. They will know their sentence at a later hearing, but they risk between 5 and 15 years in prison. Court President Maria Lepenioti, who has listed the names of the accused and their judgments, has seen 150 witnesses and some 50 lawyers parade in more than 400 hearings over the past five years. Some 45 other MPs and members of Golden Dawn were found guilty of “belonging” to such an organization, while around 15 others were acquitted.
“Pavlos my son, you succeeded”
The Athens Criminal Court also found Yorgos Roupakias, a member of Golden Dawn, guilty of the murder of an anti-fascist rapper in 2013. Left-wing activist Pavlos Fyssas was murdered with a stab on the night of September 18, 2013 , at the age of 34, in front of a cafe in his district of Keratsini, a suburb of western Athens. “Pavlos, my son, you succeeded,” said the victim’s mother, Magda Fyssas, very moved after the decision. Pavlos Fyssas’ parents had listened to the verdict sitting at the back of the courtroom. Pavlos Fyssas stood up, fists clenched, hearing the judgment, frantically banging the bar in front of her, before leaving the room to smoke. “It is a positive decision”, added the father of the rapper killed, who however waits to “see now the sentences”.
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Outside, the crowd exulted with joy as soon as the first verdict was announced. On the masks of the demonstrators, the placards and the banners, they proclaimed: “The people want the Nazis in prison”. “It’s a great victory,” said Giorgios Papanikolaou of the far left party Antarsya. “It is very important that the party is qualified as a criminal organization and not just tried for the murder of Fyssas,” he said. “But the fight against Nazi and racist ideas continues,” added the protester, as the procession marched to cries of “Pavlos lives more than ever today” towards the central square of Athens, in front of the Greek Parliament.
“Blood, Honor, Golden Dawn”
In this river trial, Golden Dawn was tried in two other cases, “attempted homicides” also involving members of the party: one against Egyptian fishermen on June 12, 2012, the other targeting members. of the communist union PAME on September 12, 2013. On leaving the court, the lawyers for the civil parties hailed a “historic decision”. “Golden Dawn is a Nazi criminal organization,” said master Thanassi Kampayannis, lawyer for the PAME union. “Justice has been served: Golden Dawn is a criminal organization”, also declared Master Kostas Papadakis, lawyer for Egyptian fishermen.
A small formation since the 1990s, Golden Dawn was created by Nikos Michaloliakos, 62 years old. The socio-political debacle after the 2010 financial crisis benefited the neo-Nazi party, whose representatives entered the Greek parliament for the first time in 2012. Back then, groups of men in black roamed the streets of Athens, beating their opponents with kicks or iron bars and chanting “Blood, honor, Golden Dawn”. Described as “historic” by the political world and the civil party, this trial gradually led to the decline of the formation whose leadership currently denies the Nazi ideology. In the last legislative elections of July 2019, Golden Dawn did not obtain any deputy.