Greece: Golden Dawn Trial Nearly Over, State Failing to Make Case

The ongoing trial of 18 members of the Greek parliament and 69 other senior figures in Greece’s famous “Golden Dawn” party—which has been ongoing in fits and starts since 2015, and followed the arrests of the accused in 2013—seems to be drawing to a close with the state having as yet failed to conclusively prove its main charge of conspiracy.

The party—more correctly called Popular Association, Golden Dawn (“Laïkós Sýndesmos – Chrysí Avgí”)—won 7 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections, giving it 21 seats in the Greek Parliament, and making it that country’s third largest party.

Its unapologetically nationalist policies and symbolism immediately attracted the violent attention of the far left. Offices belonging to the party were bombed in December 2012 and February 2013.

In September 2013, a Greek Communist “anti-fascist” rapper by the name of Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed to death during a brawl with a Golden Dawn member by the name of Giorgios Roupakias.

Roupakias was arrested—but not before calling Golden Dawn’s head office, and speaking to party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos. That telephone call—during which nothing was said which indicated that Michaloliakos either had foreknowledge of the stabbing or that he had ordered or endorsed it, was seized by the far left Greek government as primary “evidence” of a conspiracy.

Almost immediately, the state ordered police raids on the Golden Dawn leadership. Sixty-nine individuals, including all of Golden Dawn’s Parliamentary Group from the 2012 elections, were arrested and held for periods of as long as a year without being brought to trial.

Finally, in April 2015, they were charged and the court case began. The major accusation is based on Article 187 paragraph 1 of the Greek Criminal Code which is “participation in a criminal organization.”

According to Article 187, paragraph 1, a “criminal organization” is defined as a “structured and active group consisting of 3 or more persons (organization) and aims at committing more crimes, such as counterfeiting, robbery, extortion, violations related to explosive substances, etc.”

To prove this charge, the state has to show that the entire Golden Dawn leadership was aware of, actively participated in, or gave orders for criminal acts.

In addition, the group has been charged with three other offenses, namely the murder of Pavlos Fyssas; an assassination attempt on Abuzid Embarac, an Egyptian worker; and assassination attempts on members of the Greek Communist Party.

The attack on the Egyptian took place on June 12, 2012, when a gang of people attacked a house occupied by Egyptian invaders living in Greece. Although the men allegedly shouted that they were from Golden Dawn, there is no evidence showing any link between what seemed to be a local spontaneous attack and the party leadership.

The third charge relates to a September 2013 attack on twenty members of PAME, a Communist Party-affiliated trade union in Athens. The reds claimed that the attackers also claimed to be from Golden Dawn. Once again, there is no direct evidence to show that the party leadership had any foreknowledge, involvement in planning, or endorsed this attack.

The defendants argue the perpetrators bear sole responsibility for their actions, and that it is nothing but political victimization to blame the entire party.

The “evidence” presented by the state has consisted of two main prongs: firstly, tapped telephone and text messages between party leaders and members, and secondly, the “opinions” of groomed far left “experts” who all claim that the party has “a culture of violence.”

However, none of the “evidence” has actually linked the accused to any of the three specific incidents, or indeed to the main charge of a “criminal organization”—and now, as the trial draws to an end, it appears unlikely that the state will be able to prove their allegations after all.

Concern over the state’s poor case has ironically been leaked by Thanasis Kambagiannis, a prosecution lawyer, who told AlJazeera that “much of the evidence in the trial examines the relationship between the party and the police” (which does not prove any of the charges), and he expressed concern that an acquittal was possible.

“If they’re able to avoid being convicted in the trial, it means their whole project will be re-legitimized and will be able to restart,” Kambagiannis said.

It might yet be too early to predict an acquittal—which would be a significant boost to the party—as the Greek state is patently corrupt as shown by the political persecution of Golden Dawn in the first place—but so far, no convincing or damning evidence has yet come to light.

* In November 2013, Golden Dawn members Giorgos Fountoulis and Manos Kapelonis were shot dead outside the party’s offices in Neo Irakleio, a northern suburb of Athens, in a targeted assassination carried out by assassins on a motorcycle. Of course, the state has utterly neglected to make an arrest in this case, even though leftists have openly claimed responsibility.

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