2 Oct 2013

Golden Dawn MPs strike out at press after bail release

Three Golden Dawn MPs storm past journalists – one a hitting a video camera and another shouting “we will not back down” – after their unexpected release on bail pending criminal charges.

Four MPs from the far-right party were detained at the weekend following an investigation into the fatal stabbing of leftwing rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who went by the name of Killah P.

Three of the four MPs were released from police custody in Athens, and immediately began verbally attacking the media pack waiting outside.

Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos accused the media of telling lies, saying: “Golden Dawn will live for ever” and “You should be ashamed of yourselves”.

A third MP and party spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, punched a camera outside the Athens courthouse (see video). They pushed past the press pack, shoving journalists out of the way before getting into a taxi.

The MPs were unexpectedly released ahead of the trial, while a fourth Golden Dawn member, Ioannis Lagos, was jailed pending trial, the date for which has not yet been set.

The prosecution case rests on evidence that allegedly links the party with a string of attacks, including the stabbing of rapper Pavlos Fissas and the killing of an immigrant earlier this year.

But the surprise decision to free the three men after a marathon, 18-hour court session will raise further questions about the state’s handling of the case against Golden Dawn, and the weight of the evidence against them.

Travel ban

Mr Panagiotaros and Mr Michos were banned from leaving the country but no bail has been set. Mr Kasidiaris was released on a 50,000 euro (67,770 US dollar) bail, and was also banned from leaving Greece.

Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos also arrived in court on Wednesday to answer criminal charges, including murder, assault and money-laundering. A police raid on his home at the weekend found a shrine to Hitler, weapons and 43,000 euros in cash.

In total, 22 people have been detained in relation to the Killah P murder.

Support for the Golden Dawn party has risen dramatically in recent years following the country’s stark financial crisis, and the party is now the third most popular, winning 18 seats in the 300-member parliament.