7 May 2015

Trial of far-right Golden Dawn to resume in Greece

More than a dozen leading members of Greece’s far-right party are due to go on trial, accused of posing as a political force to carry out a criminal agenda.

Senior members of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party will stand trial after spending almost 18 months in detention waiting for their case to be heard.

The party’s leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, faces trial along with more than a dozen party leaders among a total of 69 defendants.

Mr Michaloliakos and other leading figures from Golden Dawn were arrested on charges of founding and participating in a criminal organisation after the fatal stabbing of anti-fascism rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 by a party supporter.

The party denies the allegations and says the defendants are victims of a political witch-hunt.

If found guilty, they face up to 20 years in prison.

Police and judicial investigations lasting over a year claim the defendants are linked to illegal possession of guns, money laundering, extortions and dozens of attacks against political opponents and migrants in recent years.

The trial was postponed from Monday because one of the far-right party defendants did not have a defence lawyer, according to the court.

The verdict is potentially historic, as it will be the first time in decades that a Greek court will in essence decide whether or not a political party is legitimate.

Golden Dawn first appeared in the mid-1980s, and was transformed from a marginal far-right group into the country’s third largest political party during the financial crisis that started in 2009.

It held 17 seats in the parliament in the national polls at the beginning of this year.