A five-year old trial in Greece– the largest court hearing of Nazis in Europe since Nuremberg in 1946– has ended with a strong rebuke against Golden Dawn, a political organization that was charged officially by the Greek court as being a “criminal organization.”
Tens of thousands of people were in the streets of Athens awaiting the official verdict, called “historic” and “epic” not only for the country, but for the rise of right wing extremism in Europe.
After countless hours of hearings and thousands of words of evidence that was presented over the last five years, the criminal court in Athens determined that Golden Dawn was a criminal organization that carried out violent attacks on opponents on the orders of founder Nikos Michaloliakos and the group’s inner circle.
The prosecutions were sparked by the late-night murder of a 34-year-old anti-fascist rapper called Pavlos Fyssas, who was chased down by a mob of Golden Dawn thugs and stabbed to death in front of a cafe in the western Athens suburb of Keratsini in September 2013.
The killer, a former truck driver, confessed to the crime, but the attack sparked outrage and the charges that Golden Dawn was a paramilitary-style organization that used beatings, intimidation and murder as tactics — all with the knowledge of senior party members.
In total, 68 members of the party were on trial, including Michaloliakos and more than a dozen other former members of parliament who were elected in 2012 as the openly xenophobic group that embraced a Nazi ideology and symbols that capitalized on anger over joblessness and migration.
As well as delivering a verdict in the murder trial for Fyssas and the trial of senior leaders of Golden Dawn, the court also handed down guilty judgements for two other assault cases allegedly involving Golden Dawn members.
An Egyptian fisherman was left with broken teeth and head injuries after being beaten with clubs and metal bars in June 2012 as he slept. Just over a year later, activists that were putting up posters were attacked with nail-studded clubs.
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