In front of the Athens courthouse, Irini Kondaridou, a teacher who had observed a work stoppage to come and demonstrate, cannot hold back tears of joy. “After the slaps taken all these years of austerity, this is the first good news in this country, she cries. The first which makes us hope that something can move in the right direction. “
→ THE FACTS. In Greece, verdict in sight for neo-Nazis of Golden Dawn
Moments earlier, the Criminal Court delivered its verdict in one of the most followed trials in recent years in Greece. A long-running trial: more than five years and 400 hearings, some of them very trying, 68 defendants, 153 witnesses, several dozen lawyers, a file with a volume of 1.5 terabytes …
Golden Dawn can no longer claim to be a respectable party
According to the court decision handed down on Wednesday, October 7, the entire parliamentary group of Golden Dawn, as it was elected in 2012, constitutes a criminal organization, guilty of murders, organizing pogroms, thefts, assaults, assassination attempts, and carrying weapons. Although it was, for seven years, the third political force in the country, sending several deputies to the European Parliament, the neo-Nazi nebula can no longer claim to be a respectable political party.
The investigation against Golden Dawn began after the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old anti-fascist rapper stabbed in September 2013 by Georgios Roupakias, a party cadre who confessed to the crime. While the assault sections of Golden Dawn had for years multiplied attacks against migrants, trade unionists, journalists and left-wing activists, it was not until the death of this rapper that the conservative government of the time launched the legal proceedings which resulted in the arrest of the party leadership.
Most defendants face five to fifteen years in prison
On Wednesday morning, the announcement of the verdict was followed by thunderous applause in the courtroom, and shouts of joy outside the building, where thousands of people were gathered. The most radical threw stones, Molotov cocktails at the police, overwhelmingly present, who responded with tear gas canisters, irritating gases and jets of water.
→ THE FACTS. Desecrated Jewish cemetery in Greece on trial against Golden Dawn neo-Nazis
With the exception of the direct assassin of Pavlos Fyssas, who faces life imprisonment, the other defendants face five to fifteen years in prison. “The message is now clear: imposing your law with batons and knives leads to prison even for legally elected deputies”, welcomed Me Thanassis Kabayiannis, a lawyer for the civil party whose pleadings had so marked the spirits that it was put on a play performed at sold-out.
→ DOCUMENTARY. Behind the Scenes of the Greek Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party
For Loucas Stamellos, an activist involved in the dissemination of the trial findings, “This verdict will not put a stop to racism and the extreme right in the country, but it puts out of harm’s way the assault sections. Any other verdict would have been understood as a green light for their return to the streets ”.