Sunday

25th Aug 2019

Feature

Is Golden Dawn's MEP head of a criminal organisation?

  • Fliers for Golden Dawn. 'An active member of a neo-Nazi criminal organisation is currently member of the EU parliament - this is not a national issue but rather a European one, and all European citizens have a right and an obligation to know' (Photo: wikimedia commons)

The recent European elections have been marked by the alarming rise of far-right; seen from the outside, one could feel more reassured for the percentages in Greece, with Golden Dawn scoring 4.87 percent, and the newly founded far-right party Greek Solution scoring a similar 4.18 percent; however, the Greek context is quite different.

Golden Dawn has elected one of its most prominent members to the EU parliament, the former MP Ioannis Lagos.

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  • A facist Golden Dawn rally in Athens in 2013 (Photo: alba.christiansen)

Before organising the logistics for his arrival in Brussels, Lagos had a more pressing issue to resolve: he had to appear before the Council of Appeal Court judges and ask for the lifting of his ban to leave the country, as he stands accused (along with another 68 persons, including all of Golden Dawn's parliamentary group from the 2012 elections) with forming and leading a criminal organisation, as well as several other individual charges.

Let's take the story from the beginning: as Golden Dawn is not a party but rather a neo-Nazi organisation, Lagos is not merely a far-right politician but an active member of a criminal organisation.

Golden Dawn has been active as a marginal, neo-Nazi group since the 1980s; the harsh economic recession that hit the country in 2010, along with the longstanding lack of a consistent migration policy and the state's denial to recognise and address the serious increase in hate crimes, has led to their prospering in the subsequent elections.

In 2010, Golden Dawn leader gained a seat in the municipal council of Athens and, in the national elections of 2012, the party gained almost seven percent, electing 21 MPs.

It was the same period that organised hate crimes skyrocketed in Greece; and Lagos was one of the operational epicentres of this phenomenon.

In June 2012, a group of neo-Nazis entered the house of some Egyptian fishermen and brutally beat up one of them, breaking his jaw; the attack was pre-announced a couple of days earlier from Lagos, who is seen in a video saying: "there are complaints about Egyptians selling fish and not answer to anybody. Well, from now on they will answer, they will answer to Golden Dawn."

It was one of the dozens hate crimes committed by organised hate groups linked to Golden Dawn: in its reports, the Racist Violence Recording Network signalled the extent of the phenomenon, and the modus operandi of the hit squads, as well as their generalised sentiment of impunity, and urged the Greek state to address the phenomenon.

Unfortunately, it took the murder of a Greek national in order to do so.

Murdered rapper

Shortly after midnight on 18 September 2013, Pavlos Fyssas, a young Greek anti-fascist rapper, was murdered in Athens.

Both the killer (Roupakias) and others who participated in the attack were members of the neo-Nazi organisation Golden Dawn.

The night of the murder, Lagos had exchanged several calls with the leader of the local branch, Patelis, who gave the order for the attack – both before and after the attack.

According to Patelis' first testimony, the physical perpetrator, Roupakias, had notified him some minutes after the attack. Patelis subsequently notified Lagos who, in turn, notified the party's leader, Michaloliakos.

This could all be a scenario of a mafia series on Netflix; unfortunately, it has been a part of Greece's central political scene for way too long.

After the attack, 69 members of Golden Dawn, including all of their members of parliament, were arrested.

They have been on trial since then, with the lawyers of the victims engaged in a huge battle, under the most difficult circumstances - the most important of which is the lack of coverage by national and international media.

The strategy of stalling the process has been the main tool of Golden Dawn all these years; it has finally backfired, leaving them out of the parliament in the last national elections on 7 July, thus leaving them without parliamentary immunity and with a major gap in funding.

Yet, Lagos had already been "taken care of" by the party leader, Michaloliakos, who had placed him in a leading position of Golden Dawn's ticket for this May's European elections.

This piece is being written while the Golden Dawn party faces severe turmoil.

It is also written on the same week of yet another trial for a brutal organised hate-crime where Lagos was allegedly present and orchestrating the attack, and just one day before the court will resume in the central trial to hear the defence plea of Patelis, the leader on Nikaia branch who gave the order to murder Pavlos Fyssas and notified Lagos some minutes after the attack.

An active member of a neo-Nazi criminal organisation is currently member of the EU parliament; this is not a national issue but rather a European one, and all European citizens have a right and an obligation to know.

Author bio

Eleni Takou is deputy director and head of advocacy of HumanRights360, member of the Racist Violence Recording Network (a coalition of CSOs that record and report hate crimes), a member of Golden Dawn Watch (an initiative that monitors the trial against Golden Dawn) and is implementing, in cooperation with Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, the #XthemOut campaign, with the aim of pinpointing and highlighting the unseen criminality related to racist attacks in the public space.

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