Three more Golden Dawn MPs jailed in Greece

Athens, Jan 14: Three more Greek ultra-Right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avgi) party legislators were jailed Monday pending trial on charges of participating in a criminal gang, Xinhua reported.

Party representatives said they will turn to the European Court of Human Rights over the crackdown against Golden Dawn (GD) which started four months ago after the murder of an anti-fascist activist by a party supporter in Athens.

The transfer of MPs Panayiotis Iliopoulos, Yorgos Germenis and Stathis Boukouras to prison Monday after their testimonies before investigating magistrates brings the total of GD lawmakers detained in pre-trial custody to six, including the party’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos.

Following the crackdown, the GD party which first entered the Greek assembly in the 2012 general elections riding on the wave of peoples’ discontent with austerity imposed to exit an acute debt crisis, has been left with 12 legislators in the 300-member strong parliament.

As similar charges have been issued against another three MPs and the party has been stripped of state funding since December, a heated discussion over Golden Dawn’s dismantling has opened.

All party deputies who have been charged so far have denied any involvement in Pavlos Fyssas’ murder or in the dozens of racist attacks against immigrants, as well as in violent attacks against Left party supporters in recent months.

Golden Dawn party spokesperson Ilias Kassidiaris, who is among the MPs charged but not remanded in custody, in statements to the Greek Press rejected once again the prosecutions as “politically motivated”.

He announced that the party intends to turn to the European Court of Human Rights to challenge the ongoing crackdown against it, claiming that “the entire procedure is illegal and unconstitutional”.

Kassidiaris accused the government of “dragging GD legislators to jail, while allowing terrorists and crooked politicians to walk free”.

It was a clear reference to the recent escape of a convicted member of the now dismantled terrorist group ‘November 17′ who did not return to prison during a leave of absence from prison and to two scandals currently under investigation in the defence ministry and the Hellenic Post bank.

As police fear a possible cooperation of Christodoulos Xiros, who went missing during the holiday season, with other urban guerrilla groups in the planning of upcoming terrorist attacks, and magistrates are investigating the scandals, opinion surveys show that Golden Dawn is still the third most popular in Greece.