Golden Dawn leadership arrested
30.09.13 @ 09:29
BRUSSELS - Greek police arrested the leader and four senior members of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party over the weekend in a wider effort to ban the group from political representation.
Police says a sixth leading member turned himself in.
Five MPs and 13 members of group are now in police custody as Greek lawmakers meet on Monday (30 September) to discuss how to strip Golden Dawn of its public funding, reports Greek newspaper Kathimerini.
The legislators are set to table a draft bill that would suspend state funding to political groups whose leaders face criminal charges.
An unnamed judicial source cited by Reuters says the members will appear in court on either Tuesday or Wednesday to face possible charges.
Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos’ arrest early Saturday morning followed an ongoing investigation by the Supreme Court prosecutor into the party's alleged links to criminal activities.
Shortly before his arrest, Michaloliakos said the police crackdown on the party would “open up the gates of hell.”
A nine-page preliminary report into Golden Dawn by Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis is said to include ten counts of murder, one attempted murder and blackmail.
The police, who searched Michaloliakos’ home on Saturday in Pefki, north of Athens, found three unlicensed weapons, ammunition, and €40,000 in cash.
According to press reports, some Golden Dawn officials store heavy weapons in hideouts in the historical region of Attica that surrounds Athens.
The group is also under investigation for possible links to the murder of 34-year old hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas on 18 September, whose death sparked mass anti-fascist protests in Athens and elsewhere.
Michaloliakos has denied any involvement in Fyssas' death.
Golden Dawn is Greece’s third largest party though recent polls suggest its support base is dwindling.
Last week, Michaloliakos threatened to pull his deputies from the parliament, a move that could have led to snap elections.
Michaloliakos, who maintained ties with the leadership of the 1967-74 right-wing military junta in Greece, has already had run-ins with the law.
He was convicted for involvement in terrorist bomb explosions in Athens in 1978.
He also edited the Golden Dawn magazine during the 1980s where he made glowing references to Nazi Germany.