ATHENS – Going from pugnacious to pusillanimous, the leaders and former lawmakers of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party convicted of operating or taking part in a criminal gang implored a court to go easy in their sentencing.
They brought in pregnant wives, a blind father, said they were about to be married, and otherwise rolled out a litany of reasons why they shouldn't be given long jail terms after being sentenced for up to 13 years among the hierarchy.
Denied leniency in mitigation hearings, they took a second shot during probation hearings with the sentences expected to come early the week of Oct. 18 after much of the world applauded their conviction.
One member, Giorgos Roupakias, was given a life sentence for stabbing to death anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 but some former lawmakers are expected to walk free after having left the party during the five-year trial.
Most had not appeared in court during the lengthy process nor even for the verdict or sentencing but showed up to plead to the court where they were reprimanded by presiding judge Maria Lepenioti for disrespecting the court and the victims of attacks from members, almost 50 who were also convicted.
Former party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who had been the most belligerent, asked for a suspension of his 13-year term so he could appeal the verdict after it was said no appeals would be allowed.
He said that he shouldn't go to jail because he had formed his own political party and being incarcerated would destroy his career in running a nationalist party similar to Golden Dawn's operation.
He also stressed that public prosecutor Adamantia Economou had originally proposed that the party leadership be cleared of running a criminal organization and claimed crowds outside the courthouse swayed the judges.
Giorgos Germenis, another ex-MP sentenced to 13 years, said he respected the court’s decision but should also have a suspended sentence because his mother said he was a changed man who spent time in pre-trial custody reading and was now focused on his children instead of Golden Dawn.
As soon as Oct. 19, Economou will propose who should be jailed and whose sentences should be suspended with the panel in the next couple of days making the final decision and issuing arrest warrants for those who don't turn themselves in.