ATHENS – Four jailed members of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party serving time after being convicted of running a criminal gang had their appeal for early release kicked back by a Greek court.
They include a Member of the European Parliament, Ioannis Lagos, who is still being paid while in jail, a German civil society group suing to get the Parliament to release information on why he’s still getting a salary and for what it’s being used.
After the decision, Lagos mocked the court by applauding the denial of the request, remaining as defiant as he has been after extradited from Brussels where he was taken into custody after reports he would flee to Norway to seek political asylum.
Requests to be released from prison had been submitted by the Perama party leader Anastasios Pandazis, Elpidoforos Kalaritis and Giorgos Stambellos, all of whom said their families would suffer if they had to stay in jail.
The decision follows the prosecutor’s recommendation announced at the last court session on June 15 although it’s common in Greece for even violent criminals and killers to get out of jail early or buy out their time.
Speaking earlier in the session, Lagos claimed that he is a “political prisoner” and told the court that he has been wronged and imprisoned for a total of three years “completely unfairly.”
The session was then adjourned until July 26 when it will rule on a request by former Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos to postpone the trial, citing reasons of ill health, commonly used in Greece as a reason to be released.
The court asked for a recent, detailed certificate on the state of his health and, if possible, an assessment by the doctors as to when his health will be restored, to aid in making a decision, said Kathimerini.
According to his lawyer, Michaloliakos spent many days in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after being infected with COVID-19 and is now in a rehabilitation center trying to recover.
The trial comes 15 months after 18 leading members of the party and its former lawmakers who had been in Parliament, were given sentenesof up to 13 years and eight months they don’t want to serve.