25 Sep 2013

Greece: after Killah P’s murder, a battle for democracy?

It’s a crime scene that still has the power to shock. The shop front at Keratsini, a suburb in Athens, bedecked with flowers, candles, a crucifix and a note promising revenge.

Pavlos Fyssas, the man killed here, was not the first person to die at the hands of Greek neo-Nazis. But he was the first non-migrant. Those with long memories know where this can lead…

Katerina, 76, stands choking back the tears: “He was an angel with a heart full of love,” she tells me.

“They killed his dreams. The government has to put an end to this situation.”

Pavlos Fyssas, an anti-fascist rapper known as Killah P, was stabbed to death here in Greece a week ago. And now, under political pressure, it seems like the Greek government is getting to the deeper problem: fascist infiltration of the police.

This is a defining moment, a game changer. Because people have to choose. Antonis Vradis

There’s been rage on the streets since the killing, with anti-fascists clashing with police. During the fighting, this footage shows riot cops seemingly fighting alongside men in plain clothes.

The man in the red vest, leading what seem to be people rioting alongside police, has been identified as a member of Golden Dawn. Now a photograph has emerged in the Greek press which appears to show this man posing alongside the man who has confessed to the murder.

Watch: the scene in Athens as anti-fascist rallies took to the streets

Antonis Vradis, an anti-fascist who is part of a research group on the impact of the Greek crisis, told me: “This is a defining moment, a game changer. Because people have to choose. The state will choose whether to become more totalitarian, to actually back what’s left of Golden Dawn. The people will have to decide whether they will put up with it.”

Last night police arrested a former policeman, a bodyguard for a Golden Dawn MP. His police gear was found in the party’s offices.

And they say five people are now seeking witness protection as they prepare to spill the beans on the party’s command structure.

I’ve an interview bid in to both the Greek police and the leadership of Golden Dawn.

Rage on the streets

Meanwhile political tensions are high. There’s another anti-fascist demo tonight, and as I write teachers on strike are marching past my window, chanting for the government to crack down on Golden Dawn.

Ever since the election of June 2012, the centre-right government has promised to crack down on extremists both of left and right. But with strong electoral support among the ranks of the police for the far right, very little has been done.

Watch: Racist, anti-semitic, violent - the true face of Golden Dawn

Says Mr Vradis: “The theory of the two extremes, popular in the media and the government, tries to balance the far right and far left: they equate a gang of murderers with a progressive left. They aim for the ‘strong middle’ to kick out the two extremes. But people won’t accept it.”

So this, is, effectively a battle for what democracy is supposed to look like. The challenge for the Greek government is to enforce the law, arrest and prosecute the lawbreakers. Soon the Greek investigators will be asked to answer, yes or no, did a political party organise a murder, and if it did, what do they plan to do about it.