Which political party has more convicted criminals?
Athens. In Greece, the leadership of the right-wing extremist Golden Dawn party was found guilty of founding a criminal organization on Wednesday. This also includes party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos. Other party members and ex-MPs were convicted of other crimes. The exact sentence and the reason are expected in the coming days. The convicts face prison sentences of up to ten years. President Ekaterini Sakellaropoulou spoke of an "important day for democracy".
Of the original 69 accused - one died during the trial - more than 40 were convicted. Eighteen senior executives were found guilty of forming a criminal organization. Michaloliakos and six others were also convicted of leading such an association. Among those convicted is Giannis Lagos, who left the party last year and is a non-attached member of the European Parliament. There were further judgments in connection with the death of the rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a party supporter in 2013. The perpetrator was convicted of manslaughter, another 15 party members as accomplices.
Even before the verdict, many demonstrators had been gathering on the streets of Athens since early Wednesday morning to protest against fascism. The police said there were around 15,000 people. When the verdict became known, applause broke out. On the fringes of the meeting there were clashes between demonstrators and the police, fireworks flew, the officials used tear gas and water cannons.
The mammoth trial had lasted more than five years. The trigger is the death of the rapper. The state then acted not only against the perpetrator, but against the party. Eventually party members and officials were charged with the formation of a criminal organization, illegal possession of weapons and assault.
"Phenomena of extreme political violence are alien to our country's long democratic tradition," said President Sakellaropoulou, herself a former judge. The verdict proves that the state can defend itself. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis also saw the verdict as a victory for democracy. »The fight against racism and hatred against those who think differently continues. It is in our hands that democracy should win every day. "
The mother of the dead rapper became a symbolic figure during the trial: Magda Fyssa was in the court on almost every one of the 450 trial days. After the verdict, she left the room with her fists raised and kept calling out her son's name.
Party founder Michaloliakos was absent from the announcement. He had dismissed the trial as a political conspiracy. He himself is not a Nazi, but a nationalist. Before and after his arrest in 2013, Michaloliakos had repeatedly shouted "Sieg Heil" in Greek in front of the cameras. The party's flag, the ancient symbol of the meander, is also reminiscent of the swastika flags of the Third Reich.
The Golden Dawn sat in parliament for years. In fact, it was the third strongest force during Greece's severe financial crisis. In the 2019 elections, it failed because of the three percent clause. Politically, the party was already down. Observers from the political scene see the verdict as their ultimate outcome. dpa / nd
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