A group of leaders from the far-right neo-Nazi political party Golden Dawn received a sentence of 13 years in prison at a Greek court on Wednesday, according to a report from the Associated Press.
The court imposed the near-maximum penalty for running a criminal organization blamed for numerous violent hate crimes.
Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and five other former lawmakers received the 13-year sentences while a seventh party member received 10 years.
Judge Maria Lepenioti’s announcement comes one week after an Athens criminal court designated Golden Dawn operated as a criminal organization which carried out violent attacks against opponents on the orders of Michaloliakos and other leaders.
Golden Dawn’s designation as a criminal organization came after a five-year trial which was sparked by the late-night murder of 34-year-old rapper Pavlos Fyssas. Fyssas was stabbed to death by Golden Dawn associates in the Athens suburb of Keratsini in September 2013.
One Golden Dawn associate received a life sentence on Wednesday for the murder of Fyssas while 11 other former members of Greek parliament received five to seven-year sentences for membership in the criminal organization.
During the weeklong sentencing hearings, defense lawyers argued that court had failed to demonstrate a clear link between the attacks and the activities of Golden Dawn’s leadership.
Ioannis Lagos, a former Golden Dawn lawmaker and current member of the Brussels-based European Parliament, was among the sentenced individuals on Wednesday. Lagos traveled to Athens for the hearings and unsuccessfully tried to have the three judges replaced on legal grounds of alleged bias and political interference.
After exiting the court, Lagos, who has returned to Brussels, said he plans to take his fight to a European court.
“All of them and all the crimes they did will go to European Courts and be reviewed,” Lagos said outside the court. “[The judges] took advantage of 67 innocent souls — us and our families — and justice will prevail.”
Featured image: A view of the court during the sentencing announcement of the Golden Dawn trial, in Athens, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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