A Greek court decides to imprison the leadership of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn following their convictions for running the party like a criminal organization, but grants suspended sentences to five of the party’s 18 former lawmakers who were convicted of lesser charges.
The decision by a three-judge panel comes after days of summations by defense lawyers following the prosecutor’s recommendation that all former Golden Dawn lawmakers be allowed to remain free pending appeal. The appeals process could take several years.
The judges reject a request to suspend the sentences of party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other former lawmakers who were convicted of leading a criminal organization. Michaloliakos and another five former lawmakers received 13-year prison sentences, while a sixth was sentenced to 10 years.
The 11 others, who were convicted of simple participation, received sentences of between five and seven years. The judges rule that five of those convicted of participation, including Michaloliakos’ wife, Eleni Zaroulia, could remain free during their appeals.
The decision ends a marathon, politically charged five-year trial involving 68 defendants, dozens of lawyers and encompassing four cases, including the 2013 fatal stabbing of left-wing Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas and physical attacks on Egyptian fishermen and left-wing activists.
The Golden Dawn lawmakers spent 18 months in jail when the trial first began, and were released due to the limit of pre-trial detention being reached.
A total of 57 party members and associates were convicted on October 7, mostly for involvement in violent attacks and participating in a criminal organization.