In front of the Athens Criminal Court, a sea of human beings – nearly 20,000 demonstrators according to the police – swept in the morning of Wednesday, October 7 on Alexandras Avenue to welcome the verdict of the trial against the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn. After five and a half years and more than four hundred hearings, the announcement was eagerly awaited in Greece, in particular because the prosecutor asked for the acquittal of the leaders last December.
On the megaphone, the sentences are listed one by one, the crowd goes into ecstasy, screams in joy: “The Nazis in prison! “ On the court forecourt, Magda, the mother of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old anti-racist rapper murdered by Yorgos Roupakis, a party member, during the night of September 18, 2013, uttered a cry of relief: “Pavlos, you made it. “A battle has been won, but fascism has not said its last word … We will continue our struggle”, added the one who has not missed a session since the start of the proceedings following the murder of her son.
The leader of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, admirer of the dictatorship of the colonels (1967-1974) and of National Socialism, a proven negationist, was found guilty of having “Led a criminal organization”. Thirty-nine activists and six executives, including former spokesperson Ilias Kassidiaris, best known for his punch at a Communist MP on a television set, and MEP Ioannis Lagos, who left Golden Dawn last year but which currently sits in the European Parliament, were also condemned. Their sentences will be clarified in subsequent hearings. In addition to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, they were on trial for attempted killings against Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and communist trade unionists in 2013.
A small group born in 1985 and then operating in disadvantaged neighborhoods in central Athens – particularly in its stronghold of Agios Panteleímonas – Golden Dawn attacked trade unionists and left activists in the early 1990s. Then, in the 2000s, new scapegoats appeared, immigrants. Real migrant hunts are orchestrated by “neighborhood defense committees”, which, at the same time, offer to help Greek retirees and traders.
The party gained popularity with the economic crisis that hit the country from 2009. In 2010, party leader Nikos Michaloliakos entered Athens city council with a Nazi salute. In June 2012, Golden Dawn obtained nearly 7% of the legislative votes and had eighteen deputies elected. Benefiting from privileged contacts in the police and in high administrations – the former district commissioner of Agios Panteleimonas was on the dock – the party will only be investigated after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, who served as an electric shock for all of Greek society.
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