Greece’s Golden Dawn leaders face jail after court ruling – Jaweb

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Greece’s Golden Dawn leaders face jail after court ruling

ATHENS — The leaders of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party face jail terms after a court rejected calls for them to remain free pending appeal against their sentences for running a criminal organization.

The court ruled that the extreme right party’s top brass, including founder Nikos Michaloliakos, must serve their sentences immediately.

The decision came two weeks after judges ruled that several of the party’s former lawmakers, including Michaloliakos, were guilty of heading a criminal group, while others were found guilty of the lesser charge of participating in a criminal organization. The prosecutor recommended that they should all remain free, pending appeal, a process that could take several years. But judges on Thursday rejected that call.

The party, founded in 1993, made it to parliament in 2012. Its members became known for violence against minorities, migrants and left-wingers, but little action was taken until 2013 when a party member stabbed to death anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in the streets of Piraeus.

“This is a day on which we might be crying, but we are crying with joy,” said Thanasis Kampagiannis, one of the lawyers representing the victims. “The hundreds of migrants who were beaten, stabbed or even murdered by the Nazi organization are vindicated.”

Michaloliakos and five former MPs received 13-year prison sentences, while a sixth former lawmaker was given 10 years in jail. Eleven other MPs received sentences of between five and seven years, while Giorgos Roupakias, a Golden Dawn sympathizer, received a life sentence for killing Fyssas.

Party members, including five former MPs, who received suspended sentences are banned from leaving the country, have to appear twice a month at their local police station and pay €20,000 each in bail money.

Despite indulging in behavior in recent years such as destroying migrants’ merchandise at flea markets, slapping a Communist MP live on TV and calling the army to stage a coup, many of the Golden Dawn ex-lawmakers have spent the last days pleading not to be jailed. Some brought their elderly parents to court, others said they were not capable of doing anything but taking care of livestock or baking cheese pies.

“I’m proud that they are sending me to prison for my ideas. History and the Greek people will vindicate us,” Michaloliakos told journalists outside his house, adding that he was targeted by a “dirty junta” of politicians and media.

Some of the ex-lawmakers have already turned themselves in, with arrest orders to be issued for the rest. The European Parliament will be asked to lift the immunity of Ioannis Lagos, who is currently an MEP. He left Athens for Brussels earlier this week.

Greece’s Golden Dawn leaders face jail after court ruling Wire Services/ Politico.

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