Greece: Neo-Nazi boss testifies
The leader of the Greek neo-Nazis from the Golden Dawn Party made his first court appearance on 3 October. Greek MP Nikolaos Michaloliakos has been held in custody since the weekend on charges of being part of a criminal gang that could result in his being imprisoned for several years if convicted.
Michaloliakos and another 20 members of Golden Dawn were detained in connection with the murder of left-wing activist and popular singer Pavlos Fisas in mid-September. Michaloliakos is suspected of bearing direct responsibility for the party's illegal activities.
The party chair has been labeled an authoritarian leader on the model of the Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler. The Greek authorities also reviewed the cases of four other detained Golden Dawn MPs on 3 October.
Three of those MPs did not meet the conditions for being retained in custody and were released pending trial. Ilias Kasidiaris, the party spokesperson, was released on bail of EUR 50 000 and is forbidden to leave the country.
Two other MPs, Nikos Michos and Ilias Panajotaros, are also banned from leaving Greece. The fourth detained legislator, Jannis Lagos, remained in custody, reportedly because his indirect participation in the murder of Fisas has been ascertained.
The Greek media reported that the release of the other MPs was an unpleasant surprise to the Greek media and members of the cabinet. "We didn't expect this," a cabinet member who was not further identified told news server To Vima.
All four MPs denied all of the charges against them at the court in Athens. The main hearing in the case began this past Tuesday and lasted 18 hours, ending in the early morning hours of Thursday.
Kasidiaris told the judges his detention is a case of political persecution. Golden Dawn is defending itself against all of the charges by arguing that the right-wing extremist who has confessed to the murder of Fisas was not a member of their party.
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