Greece: interrogation continues of Golden Dawn MPs arrested

Charges for belonging to a 'criminal organisation'

02 October, 20:01

    (ANSAmed) - ATHENS, OCTOBER 2 - After a 14-hour interrogation lasting from Tuesday evening until Wednesday morning, the two investigative judges interrogating members of parliament and activists from the Greek neo-Nazi party Chrysi Avgì (Golden Dawn) have charged four with setting up and belonging to a criminal organisation, but have ordered the release on bail of three of them. Some observers say the decision seems a defeat for the Greek government and judiciary, which for several days have been conducting a crackdown on the neo-Nazi group held to be behind dozens of attacks on immigrants as well as extortion, blackmail and at least two murders. The judges' decision also raises the question as to how water-tight the case for prosecution drawn up against those arrested is. The three members of parliament released on bail with the obligation to remain in the country are Ilias Kasidiaris (party spokesperson and believed to be head of the paramilitary training camps for members), Ilias Panayotaros and Nikos Michos.

    The fourth, Yannis Lagos, has not been released as judges believe he is connected with the killing of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on September 17 in Athens - a killing carried out by Georgios Roupakias, a Golden Dawn member who has confessed to the crime which led to the investigation and the over 20 arrests made within the party, as well as about ten still sought by police. All four of those arrested have denied the charges against them, saying that it is a ''set-up'' to get rid of their party ahead of the local elections scheduled for May, in which Kasidiaris plans to stand for Athens mayor. Kasidiaris, whose bail was set at 50,000 euros, has denied that Golden Dawn has its own Nazi-type assault team. The party's leader and founder, Nikos Michaloliakos, accused of being the main culprit behind Golden Dawn's illegal activities, arrived at the court at 7:30 PM Tuesday evening and was interrogated the entire night. The sixth member of parliament arrested, Christos Pappas - believed to be the deputy leader of the organisation - will undergo interrogation on Thursday. In commenting on the release of the three MPs, Interior Minister Yannis Michelakis said that ''their release does not mean anything. The elements (against them) are there, the charges of engaging in illegal activities stand. We need to keep in mind that the interrogation was simply the first step.'' (ANSAmed).

    Investigations meanwhile continue to ascertain potential links between the police and the neo-Nazis, which many have long contended exist. The former police chief of Agios Panteleimonas - an area in central Athens with a large immigrant community - was arrested on Wednesday on charges of collaborating with Golden Dawn, bringing the number of police arrested in for involvement in the party's illegal activities to nine. The former police chief is thought to have told area residents who complained of the presence of immigrants to go to the local Golden Dawn office for ''better service''. Immigrants who went to the police station to report attacks by neo-Nazis were instead threatened with arrest and told to get out.


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