A lawmaker from Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn on Saturday deserted the party’s parliamentary group, condemning its actions and expressing remorse.
The move came as Golden Dawn lawmakers faced new charges in an ongoing criminal investigation following the murder of a leftist musician last year.
The Golden Dawn lawmaker, Chryssovalantis Alexopoulos, announced his decision to become an independent MP in a letter to the head of parliament.
“I came to this decision following a wave of revelations about the activities of (GD) members which have been labelled criminal, and which I naturally had no knowledge of,” Alexopoulos said.
“I and many fellow comrades condemn these acts,” he said.
Alexopoulos’ move is a first for the party, which is known for enforcing military-style discipline among its members.
The neo-Nazi group stands accused of orchestrating attacks on immigrants and political opponents. A crackdown was ordered after the killing of a well-known anti-fascist rapper in September by a Golden Dawn member sparked public outrage.
Six of the party’s 18 elected members of parliament including its leader are currently in prison awaiting trial and a total of nine have been indicted on charges of belonging to, or running, a criminal organization.
Parliament is currently discussing whether to permit the prosecution of the remaining Golden Dawn deputies so they can also face charges.
Despite the high-profile investigation, Golden Dawn was until now Greece’s third most popular party.
Formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, the openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic group entered the 300-seat parliament in 2012 after tapping into widespread anger over immigration and austerity reforms in debt-ridden Greece.
Police raids at the homes of prominent members have found Nazi memorabilia and unlicensed firearms.
Court documents have linked Golden Dawn to two murders, three attempted murders and numerous assaults.
Witnesses have also testified that senior party members were involved in migrant beatings, extortion and possible arms smuggling.