News / Europe

Greece's Golden Dawn Leader Held Before Trial

FILE - Leader of extreme-right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos talks to reporters, Athens, May 6, 2012.
FILE - Leader of extreme-right Golden Dawn party Nikolaos Mihaloliakos talks to reporters, Athens, May 6, 2012.
Reuters
The leader of Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party was remanded in custody on Thursday pending trial on criminal charges, the first time an elected party chief has been put behind bars since a military coup nearly five decades ago.
 
The detention of Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, who has watched support for his party wane after a supporter was accused of murdering a popular rapper, is a reprieve for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras's government that has vowed to wipe out the party, calling it a “gang of neo-Nazis.”
 
Stunned by a court decision on Wednesday to free three other senior Golden Dawn lawmakers before their hearings, the government hailed Thursday's ruling as “the most dynamic confrontation of a neo-Nazi criminal gang in European, and possibly, world history.”
 
The government, which is hoping the arrests of senior Golden Dawn members will help it subdue a party seemingly untouched by accusations of violence and intimidation, praised the justice system for “doing its job”.
 
Mihaloliakos, gray-haired and bespectacled, shouted: “Long live Greece! Victory!” as he was led away from court in handcuffs in the early hours of Thursday. He denied charges of founding and belonging to a criminal organization during a six-hour plea session before a judge.
 
His wife and daughter, joined by Golden Dawn lawmakers, stood outside the court in the rain. “You are a diamond — don't buckle,” his wife Eleni Zaroulia, a fellow lawmaker, told him.
 
Flag-waving supporters yelled a popular party slogan: “Blood! Honor! Golden Dawn!”
 
Mihaloliakos was arrested on Saturday alongside four other party lawmakers and dozens more party members. A sixth lawmaker turned himself in on Sunday.
 
All six have denied the charges against them and say they are victims of political persecution.
 
'Neo-Nazi mentality'
 
Golden Dawn said the decision was “the most wretched conspiracy in modern Greek political history.”
 
“The jailing of our general secretary is totally unfair, unconstitutional and dictated by foreign centers of power,” it said in a statement posted on its website.
 
Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse, Athens, Oct. 3, 2013.Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse, Athens, Oct. 3, 2013.
x
Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse, Athens, Oct. 3, 2013.
Extreme-right Golden Dawn party senior lawmaker Christos Pappas is escorted by anti-terrorism police officers to a courthouse, Athens, Oct. 3, 2013.
Mihaloliakos and fellow party lawmakers Yannis Lagos and Christos Pappas were ordered detained pending trial on Thursday. He was transferred to a high-security jail later in the day.
 
A day earlier, party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris and fellow lawmakers Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos stormed out of the court celebrating their release as they kicked and spat at journalists and punched a camera out the way.
 
“I wonder how they can celebrate with such accusations on their back,” Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias, who described the scene as “repulsive, ugly and indicative of their neo-Nazi mentality”, told a Greek newspaper.
 
“But let's not kid ourselves ... they're Nazis, they behave like Nazis,” Dendias said.
 
Golden Dawn, for years a little-known group, rode a wave of anger at traditional parties, corruption and the country's deep economic crisis to win 18 seats in parliament in last year's election.
 
But the killing of anti-racism rapper Pavlos Fissas prompted protests across Greece and a crackdown on a party which has a swastika-like emblem and is accused of violent attacks on dark-skinned immigrants and political opponents, something it denies.
 
Despite shedding about a third of support since the killing, polls show it remains Greece's third most popular party.
 
“Every time they [the government] want to take measures against the people they always bring to light something else. Something big ... and then suddenly we have more taxes,” said pensioner Antonis Lavdas, who did not say which party he supported.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs