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Golden Dawn, Greece’s Neo-Nazi Party, Goes on Trial

September 5th and 6th saw the first two hearings of the Golden Dawn trial after the summer break. The trial proceeded with the examination of several violent incidents by Golden Dawn members, including one by former Golden Dawn MP Efstathios Boukouras.

Whilst the trial consists of four different cases involving the neo-Nazi party and its members, since last February the court has been examining the party’s future “participation in and direction of a criminal organization.” The Golden Dawn trial started on April 20, 2015 and according to affiliated sources a verdict is expected no sooner than the end of 2018.

There have been significant delays to the procedures. One reason is the strike by Athens’ lawyers from January to May 2016, which led to the postponement of 15 scheduled hearings. According to Golden Dawn Watch which is observing the trial closely, Golden Dawn’s lawyers have in many cases tried to delay the procedure by presenting technical obstacles to the jury.

In order to examine whether the Greek neo-Nazi party fits the definition of a criminal organization, an additional overview of other criminal cases where Golden Dawn members are involved is necessary. To this end, civil action has brought in cases that have received final judgements in the past, such as the 2008 attack by a Golden Dawn’s battalion on a social center “Antipnia.” The center is characterized by its anti-hierarchical, self-organized and antifa orientation.

On June 30, 2008, during a Spanish language course, a man entered the social center. According to sworn testimonies from eye-witnesses, he gave the Nazi salute and shouted: “With greetings from Golden Dawn, you pussies will die.” A few seconds later a team of Golden Dawn members started vandalizing the place. Then, two Golden Dawn members stabbed two people. One narrowly escaped death. At that moment a voice called out “the time is over.” As if on cue, the battalion immediately left the scene on their motorbikes, in the same coordinated way that it had arrived.

The case ended with 11 and 13-year prison sentences for two Golden Dawn members for attempted homicide by intent and possession and use of weapons. Another similar attack involved cutting the nose of a 16-year old student in Athens by a young member of the “Youth Front of Golden Dawn.” The offender received a penalty of 6-year sentence for inflicting severe intentional injury.

While not all cases have been solved or taken to court, 32 incidents of Golden Dawn brutality have been examined during the Golden Dawn trial. The aim is to document evidence proving that Golden Dawn is a criminal organization.

Why is Golden Dawn accused of being a criminal organization?

There is an obvious and common response to this question. However, Golden Dawn happens to be a legal political party of the Greek Parliament. In order to prove the correlation between the political party and the crimes that its members have committed, a thorough documentation has been presented in court by civil action.

Thanasis Kambayiannis, a lawyer participating in the civil action counsels of the Golden Dawn trial, explained to AthensLive why Golden Dawn can be identified as a criminal organization: “According to the lawsuit, Golden Dawn is a criminal organization in a political party’s costume, under which it commits all of its crimes. The evidentiary procedures until today have shown that the violent battalions, the physical perpetrators that have been described by their victims and witnesses, were and are members of Golden Dawn. The most important aspect though is that the coordination of these battalions comes from the same administration that the political party has.”

For now, the trial proceeds with the examination of 131 witnesses. In its next phase, thousands of documents of all types will be examined to determine if the people who form the hierarchy of the neo-Nazi party are the same who have orchestrated the deadly attacks on immigrants, LGBTQ people, and those who oppose them.

This article was originally posted in AthensLive.