ATHENS – To mocking from rival parties who said the New Democracy government should have kept tabs on him, the former second-in-command of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party has eluded police after being sentenced to jail.
Christos Pappas' lawyer said the convict had made a decision to run after a court rejected clemency pleas from most of the 18 former lawmakers of the party who were convicted of running a criminal gang while dozens were convicted of taking part in the operation targeting migrants, leftists and other targets.
The others who were arrested or turned themselves in were taken to several different prisons, marking the end of a near five-year-long trial that also saw one member, Giorgos Roupakias, given a life sentence for the 2013 stabbing death of anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas outside a Piraeus taverna.
Pappas had checked in with his local police station in the northern Athens suburb of Papagou on Oct. 1, as he was obliged to do, but hadn't been seen since then, three weeks before the jailings were ordered.
The government said he was being surveilled but also said he couldn't be followed without invading his privacy rights although he was a convicted felon and wasn't required to be in the court so he could be taken into custody immediately. If he was being tracked it wasn't explained how he eluded police.
On Oct. 22, after the court ordered the convicts sent to jail, police raided Pappas’ home and those of relatives in western Attica and Ioannina in northwestern Greece.
Leftist SYRIZA ripped the Citizens’ Protection Ministry, noting that “it should have known where the leaders of Golden Dawn were,” at all times.