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Greek prosecutor seeks 13-year jail terms for leaders of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn

Over 50 members of party face punishments including possible life sentence for killer of anti-fascist rapper; judges to rule on Thursday

A file picture taken on September 28, 2013 shows the leader of ultra-right wing Golden Dawn party Nikos Michaloliakos being escorted by masked police officers to the prosecutor from the police headquarters in Athens, Greece. (AFP photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)
A file picture taken on September 28, 2013 shows the leader of ultra-right wing Golden Dawn party Nikos Michaloliakos being escorted by masked police officers to the prosecutor from the police headquarters in Athens, Greece. (AFP photo/Angelos Tzortzinis)

ATHENS — A Greek prosecutor on Tuesday called for 13-year prison sentences for the leading members of infamous neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, nearly a week after their conviction in a landmark trial.

Prosecutor Adamantia Economou said the sentences should be imposed on long-term leader Nikos Michaloliakos and six other former Golden Dawn lawmakers, including Ioannis Lagos, an independent Member of the European Parliament.

The proposed sentences will be debated by a panel of three judges, with decisions expected by Thursday.

Economou said another 11 former party lawmakers, including Michaloliakos’ wife, should be sentenced to between five and seven years in prison.

A general view of the court room and the Presiding Judge Maria Lepenioti during the trial of the Golden Dawn party trial in Athens on October 12, 2020 (LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP)

The court on Monday threw out a last-ditch effort by Lagos to delay the sentencing by having the original panel of three judges recused for bias.

It also denied requests by defense lawyers to consider mitigating factors when sentencing Michaloliakos, and other former senior party members, who were convicted last week of running a criminal organization.

Lagos on Monday said the judges “demanded the blood of… innocent people and their families,” adding that he planned to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Golden Dawn trial has been described as one of the most important in Greece’s political history.

More than 50 defendants were convicted of crimes ranging from running a criminal organization, murder and assault to illegal weapons possession.

Twitter account suspended

The crimes carried out by Golden Dawn include the 2013 cold-blooded murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas and the beating of Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and communist trade unionists in 2013, the court established.

Greek Pavlos Fyssas performs on stage, June 21, 2011. (John D. Carnessiotis/AP)

Fyssas’ killer Yiorgos Roupakias, a former truck driver, should be given a life sentence, the prosecutor said Tuesday.

Other party members who helped ambush the rapper on the night he was killed should be given eight-year sentences, she said.

Michaloliakos has rejected his conviction as a political witch-hunt.

“We were condemned over our ideas,” he tweeted last week.

“When illegal immigrants are the majority in Greece, when (the government) hands over everything to Turkey, when millions of Greeks are unemployed on the street, they will remember Golden Dawn.”

Twitter later suspended his account.

Prosecutors had argued that Michaloliakos ran his party under a military-style hierarchy modelled on Hitler’s Nazi party, with himself as leader for over three decades.

A search of party members’ homes in 2013 uncovered firearms and other weapons, as well as Nazi memorabilia.

Supporters of Greece’s extreme right Golden Dawn raise torches during a rally in Athens, on February 2, 2019 (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Tapping into anti-austerity and anti-migrant anger during Greece’s decade-long debt crisis, Golden Dawn for a time was the third most popular party in the country.

The party was in parliament from 2012 onwards, with its lawmakers repeatedly shocking the chamber with provocative and aggressive behavior.

It failed to win a single seat in last year’s parliamentary election.

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