Skip to comments.Greek Neo-Nazi Party Arrests Follow High-Profile Murder
Posted on 09/28/2013 10:58:38 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Greek police arrested the leader of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party Saturday on charges of establishing a criminal organization. The police also issued warrants for more than 30 party members including six members of parliament on charges of murder, money laundering and other crimes.
Greek TV stations interrupted regular programming to show live scenes of the Golden Dawn members led away in handcuffs. It's the first time since 1974 when a seven-year military dictatorship ended that sitting members of parliament have been arrested.
"Members of parliament in Greece usually have immunity, which means they cannot be prosecuted and arrested unless parliament gives its permission," Tania Dionysopoulou, a lecturer in criminal law at the University of Athens, told NPR. "But that immunity does not apply to flagrant, serious crimes where there is strong evidence, as appears to be the case here."
Long Suspected Of Violence
Just three years ago, Golden Dawn was an obscure group, marginalized by most Greeks as neo-Nazi thugs, and it received just 0.23 percent of the vote in 2009 parliamentary elections.
But after the debt crisis destroyed faith in mainstream politicians, the group rebranded itself as corruption-fighting patriots and blamed the country's problems on undocumented migrants and politicians who work for "Jewish bankers." In elections last year, the party won 7 percent of the vote and 18 seats in the 300-member parliament.
Golden Dawn supporters have long been suspected of carrying out violent attacks against immigrants, especially those of South Asian and African descent. In a recent report, the Greek Ombudsman noted at least 281 racist attacks in the country including four murders between January 2012 and April 2013.
"These arrests should have happened a long time ago," says Dimitris Psarras, an investigative journalist who wrote The Black Book of Golden Dawn, the definitive study of the group. "It's not like the police didn't have evidence that the party is violent."
High-Profile Killing Turns Public Attention
But it took a Golden Dawn supporter's alleged involvement in the Sept. 18 murder of a 34-year-old Greek, Pavlos Fyssas, to incite national outrage, protests and now arrests of the party's members.
Fyssas was a rapper who performed under the name Killah P and whose lyrics condemned racism and fascism. He had just left a cafe in Amfiali, a working-class neighborhood south of Athens, where he had been watching a soccer match on TV, when a gang of at least 10 men wearing black shirts and camouflage jumped him. A 45-year-old man who has been identified in the Greek press as Giorgos Roupakias allegedly stabbed Fyssas in the heart.
Outrage over his murder prompted an investigation into connections between the Greek police and Golden Dawn. So far, the probe has resulted in the resignation of two senior policemen and the suspension of four others.
Christos Stamou, a 21-year-old college student studying economics, says he believes the police have "looked the other way" while Golden Dawn's armed paramilitary gangs posing as neighborhood watch groups have terrorized the streets of Greek cities. "People don't trust the police," he says.
Dimitrios Kyriazidis, a retired police officer and parliamentary deputy with New Democracy, the ruling conservative party, has long warned that Golden Dawn functioned as a "criminal gang" that encouraged Greeks to become vigilantes instead of law-abiding democrats. "They must be stopped before their power becomes an unbreachable wall," he said.
Golden Dawn Denies Involvement
Riot police try to move supporters of the Golden Dawn party during a protest in solidarity of the arrested lawmakers in Athens on Saturday. Riot police try to move supporters of the Golden Dawn party during a protest in solidarity of the arrested lawmakers in Athens on Saturday.
Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images Golden Dawn insists that the party was not involved in Fyssas' murder or any other violence and says the crackdown is a witch hunt. "This is the political murder of a legal political movement," declared Artemis Mathaiopoulos, a Golden Dawn lawmaker from the northern city of Serres. "We will fight until the end."
The party claims its members are the victims of a conspiracy by corrupt politicians and international bankers. They called on their supporters to protest outside police headquarters.
Early Saturday morning, police raided the home of Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos, a mathematician-turned-army commando known for his Nazi-style salutes and violently racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric. Officers discovered three unregistered guns there, private TV news channel SKAI reported.
Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who denies the Holocaust and made international headlines last year for slapping a female lawmaker on live TV, was also arrested. The party had been planning to nominate him as a candidate for mayor of Athens. Golden Dawn leaders in the Nikaia district, which includes the area where Fyssas was killed, have also been detained.
Greece's Political Future
Michaloliakos has threatened to pull out Golden Dawn's 18 lawmakers from the 300-member parliament.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told reporters Saturday that neither a walkout nor the arrests will lead to new general elections. Polls show that most Greeks do not want another round of elections, even though nearly everyone is unhappy with circumstances in the country, where unemployment tops 27 percent.
Psarras, the Golden Dawn expert, says he expects the party to struggle now that their leader, Michaloliakos, has been jailed. "This is a party of sheep who follow their leader," he says. "And now, finally, they're cut off from the world for the first time."
Some polls show that if Golden Dawn collapses, its voters may migrate to Samaras' conservative New Democracy party, which leads Greece's two-party coalition government.
Georgia Zafeiri, a 19-year-old medical student, says she would like to believe that most of her fellow Greeks who voted for Golden Dawn in 2012 elections are not fascists. "I'd like to think they're unemployed people who lost hope and looked in the wrong place for a savior," says Zafeiri, who joined thousands of Greeks in an anti-fascism march in Athens last week. "I hope they see that now."
“Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who denies the Holocaust and made international headlines last year for slapping a female lawmaker on live TV, was also arrested.”
I imagine this guy as some weird combination of Ahmadinijad and Ron Burgundy.
There are roughly thirty political parties in Greece. I don’t think any one single party gets more than twenty percent of the national vote.
The country thrives upon diversity, political argument, and parties promising and delivering tons of special favors, bridges, and funded stuff. Toss in the fact that so many islands make up the country, and everyone wants something special...it just makes a bigger mess.
So along comes this economic disaster that no one has ever experienced in their life. Folks are discontent...some living in a marginal form of life....and politics have simply gone to a turbo-version.
The killing of the rapper? Well, all the authorities can say is that one socialist rapper is dead after a confrontation with some Nazi Greek guy. No one has yet to say whose knife was involved. Maybe I’m wrong here, but witness accounts haven’t helped the cops at all. So there’s got to be a clean-up of this mess, and someone to blame. The Greek Nazis get the full blame.
Presently in Greece, some folks think that the Greek Nazis have between five and ten percent of the vote around the country. If they ever get enough of a build-up on complaints....they could take maybe twenty-five percent of the vote, and literally run the country because of that small but overwhelming number. Remember, Hitler’s Nazi Party barely took around sixteen percent of the German vote in the first episode, and was a partnership deal to get them into the control position of the Bundestag.
Golden Dawn’s support is actually closer to 15%
This was a political purge, plain and simple. Internals were probably looking worse and worse, and Golden Dawn were threatening to withdraw from parliament. It’s weird, but if that happens, another election is immediately called, in which they would undoubtedly gain even more seats than last time.
The stabbing is an excuse. You don’t arrest an entire party for something that a supporter does (or we’d have arrested all the rats a long time ago).
This was planned, and executed as quickly as possible by the powers that be in Greece, and the EU.
Somehow though, I think it will only hasten Greece’s descent into anarchy. Adolf Hitler was a lot more popular after prison than before.
Adolf Hitler didn’t surge in popularity until well after he was out of prison.
While it’s quite true that Hitler served prison time for the Beer Hall Putsch, bear in mind the charges these fellows are looking at would land them in the slammer for at least 20 years. Murder is a damned serious charge, and add in extortion, bribery, blackmail, etc., and 20 years would likely be a minimum sentence at best.
If they’re convicted and found guilty - “if” being the operative word - these guys will probably be locked up for the rest of their lives.
Hitler's attempt to overthrow the government wasn't as serious a crime? Isn't what Hitler did treason or something?
European jail sentences are rarely as long as they would be in the US, though.
Arresting the Golden Dawn leaders does nothing about the social conditions that made Golden Dawn popular.
Greece has had problems with Communists before WWII, during the war -- most of the so-called 'freedom fighters' in Greece's 'Resistance' were Commies -- and then Communists almost took control of Greece after after the war. It was only thanks to a robust response by the Brits during the civil war that ensued which kept the country from falling into Stalin's hands.
Not excusing anything by Golden Dawn. Just saying I'd look for commies trying to play 'good guy' -- which is pretty fricken comical IMO.
From France through the Balkans to Greece these 'undergrounds' consisted mostly of commies working for Stalin. Tito & Yugoslavia is a prime example of commie resistance fighters.
(but they fought against 'fascism' so it was okay...yeah, riiiight, whatever)
Back then it was called the Reichstag.
And today the Bundestag (the institution) convenes in the Reichstag (the building)...
The movie “Z” was made many years ago but has many
Golden Dawn is anti-Islamic-immigration. Both parties forming the current coalition government (the Socialists and pseudo-conservative New Democracy) are pro-immigration.
The ruling power structure cannot afford the possibility that the Greek people, fed up with the economy and muslim immigrants, would give Golden Dawn their protest vote if new elections are called, so they jailed the leadership the day after Golden Dawn threatened to walk out of Parliament and this trigger elections.