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Greek neonazi leaders sentenced to 13 years jail in historic victory for anti-fascist movement

by Kevin Ovenden
in Athens

THE leadership of neonazi party Golden Dawn have been sentenced to hefty 13-year jail terms in a historic victory for the anti-fascist movement in Greece and internationally.

Would-be fuehrer Nikolaos Michaloliakos and five other former MPs received that sentence, two years short of the maximum, today for “directing a criminal organisation.” A seventh got 10 years. They constitute the  fascist party’s whole executive committee.

The panel of three judges in the most important trial of Nazi criminality since Nuremberg will next consider applications to suspend those and other sentences of the 57 Golden Dawn convicts pending appeals, or instead to issue arrest warrants and send them to jail.

Appeal hearings could be years away. Lawyers for Golden Dawn’s victims insist that vindication for their clients and for democratic public opinion in Greece depends on the neonazis being jailed.

It is also a matter of public safety, according to anti-fascist campaigners. One convicted leader is Ilias Kasidiaris, who has set up one of several breakaway Golden-Dawn-lite parties looking to take up its mantle.

He became notorious for assaulting female left MP Liana Kanelli on TV in 2012. A botched state prosecution meant he was not convicted.

Other sentences include five to seven years for the 20 convicted principally for membership of a mafia-type organisation, and life imprisonment for the murderer of anti-racist rapper Pavlos Fyssas. His co-perpetrators got seven to 10 years. That crime in 2013 led to the popular eruption that forced a conservative-led government to prosecute Golden Dawn.

Those guilty of the attempted murder of Egyptian fisherman Abouzid Embarak got seven to 10 years; of the attack on trade unionists of the Pame organisation, two years — the maximum sentence was three.

Mr Embarak’s lawyer, Thanasis Kampagiannis, said, “The sentences for the leaders are stiff, but not the strictest. The penalties for those involved in the criminal organisation and for the perpetrators of individual crimes are lower than what is appropriate.”

The Communist Party of Greece said similarly and added: “These sentences must be applied immediately to put the Nazi criminals in prison.”

There was little doubt that if that did not happen, then popular indignation would burst onto the streets as it has done repeatedly in driving through the conviction of Golden Dawn that parts of the Greek state fought to avoid.

In any case, anti-racist campaigners of the Keerfa coalition and others are to hold two days of action this weekend in solidarity with refugees held by the state in inhuman camps and to build on the court victory.

On Monday, the Greek equivalent of the Daily Telegraph newspaper ran a feature on how respected lawyer Dimitris Zotos first brought a suit to have Golden Dawn declared a criminal gang in 1996 on behalf of socialist activists assaulted by the neonazis. He was also part of this prosecution under the same penal article.

We might well imagine that Pavlos Fyssas and others would be alive today had the state authorities not blocked Mr Zotos’s legal action 24 years ago.

No-one in Greek public life can honestly claim that they did not know. This week, international labour movement opinion certainly knows.

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