ATHENS – The ultra extreme-right Golden Dawn party, whose leaders have been jailed on charges of running a criminal organization, lost one of its 18 Members of Parliament who quit, saying he was not aware of its activities.
Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, who represents the party in Larissa in central Greece, said he would stay in Parliament as an Independent. Nine of the party’s MPS have been charged already and Parliament is considering revoking immunity for the rest so they can be prosecuted as the government tries to dismantle the extremist organization.
In a letter addressed to House speaker Evangelos Meimarakis, Alexopoulos said he had not been aware of Golden Dawn’s “criminal activities” that emerged from an ongoing judicial probe into the party.
“I reached this decision following a series of revelations regarding the activities of [GD] members, which have been defined as criminal, and which naturally I had no knowledge of,” he wrote, adding that he and fellow comrades condemned these alleged acts. He said that he should have spoken out earlier but did not do so for reasons he would clarify at a later date.
Golden Dawn’s remaining 17 lawmakers responded by calling Alexopoulos a “liar,” ”defamer” and “coward” and calling on him to resign after he had already quit.
According to a resume posted on his personal website, now taken down, Alexopoulos joined Golden Dawn in 1996.
Greece’s financial crisis helped Golden Dawn gain nearly 7 per cent of the vote and 18 seats in Greece’s 300-member Parliament.
A crackdown by authorities on the extreme right-wing party started after last year’s fatal stabbing of an anti-fascist musician by a Golden Dawn supporter in Athens.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)