At the end of one of the most high-profile trials in modern-Greek history, Greek judges ruled that an extreme right-wing neo-Nazi political party operated as a criminal gang.
In an Athens court, a five-year trial ended with seven former parliamentarians from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, including Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, being found guilty of “running a criminal organisation.”
Over the course of the trial, the court heard evidence that the political party operated “as a paramilitary group.” It was alleged that leaders “handed down orders to small clans in neighbourhoods” instructing them to “assault groups and businesses.” The court heard claims of how the group targeted migrants and refugees along with political opponents.
The extremist group was founded in 1985 and was registered as a political party in 1993. In the 2012 elections, against a backdrop of financial chaos that led to stringent austerity measures, the Golden Dawn Party became the third largest in the Greek parliament.
Two years into the trial, the prosecutor was forced to recommend acquittals for numerous party members who were not active in the violence.
During the run-up to elections, Party members were alleged to have set alight Athens bars and cafés owned by migrants and the Party’s political opponents.
Golden Dawn members denied the charges, calling the verdict an “unprecedented conspiracy”.
Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the ruling brought an end to “a traumatic cycle in the country’s public life.”
Mr Michaloliakos and the other former Parliamentary members face at least ten years in prison for their crimes. However, the verdict does not mean the immediate end of the party, as members promised to remain active.