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Letter from Athens: No Real High Crimes in Greece, Only Misdemeanors

October 24, 2021

If you needed any more proof about Greece’s swinging saloon door justice it came when the jail cell doors opened after one year – of a 10-year sentence – for a troglodyte, Giorgos Patelis, formerly of the dismantled neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party.

He wasn’t in for selling marijuana but complicity in the 2013 murder of anti-Fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, for which another Golden Dawner – Giorgos Roupakias – was given an alleged life sentence but look for him to get out too.

Patelis was released because he said his son had a mental disorder but there was no report on what kind of evidence was produced as criminals in Greece often say they don’t feel well and get out on medical grounds, unlike Fyssas, who is under the ground – forever.

A parole board authorized the release and curiously there was no riot from Fyssas’ supporters, no protests, and not a peep about a man who had a bloody hand in the artist’s death now walking free, maybe to grab a pizza or beer.

Patelis was the leader of Golden Dawn’s Nikaia chapter in Piraeus, and in October 2020 was jailed along with the entire hierarchy of the party, its former lawmakers, and dozens of members convicted on charges of running a criminal gang.

This being Greece, the defendants weren’t even required to be in court during a five-year-long trial, nor for the sentencing, which saw the party’s former second-in-command, Christos Pappas, become a fugitive for nine months before being found and put in jail where he belongs.

A prosecutor went along with Patelis’ lawyer saying that his client is a nice guy who just happened to be involved in a murder.

“There is no serious possibility of a new [criminal] act being committed as the specific offense was committed for specific reasons, in view of specific circumstances,” the prosecutor told a five-member appeals tribunal, said Kathimerini.

And you know the other members of the party sitting behind bars are hatching schemes to get out too, so look for a series of medically-related pleas and mitigating circumstances to see them walk free too.

At least Supreme Court prosecutor Vassilis Pliotas isn’t taking this one lying down as he asked for a copy of the ruling from the paroles court on just why the hell someone complicit in a murder can now go to the beach and a tavern.

The prosecutor will examine the decision in order to determine whether to file for the reversal of the decision to release Patelis, the paper said, the board deciding that his son’s health problems were reason enough for him to walk.

He’s probably the only inmate in Greece who has that problem unless you count all the others who have reasons just as grave but won’t be getting out. The board said Patelis met conditions for his sentence to be suspended. Like what?

He’s supposed to report to a police station where he can swap laughs with cops, many of whom were admirers of the neo-Nazi group, and he’s not supposed to leave the country. Why would he? Things are going just swell for him in Greece.

Golden Dawn was a bunch of ugly thugs who didn’t have the brainpower of a Trumpie, which shows you just how ignorant and cruel they are, and they are being treated leniently even in jail.

The former spokesman for the party, Ilias Kasidiaris, had been allowed to use a cell phone in his cell that he had been using to spread conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic and other nutty posts.

Why not being complacent or lenient with these violent types is important is that coddling them only encourages them and now there are replacement extremist groups popping up around Greece, especially the second-largest city, Thessaloniki.

That was the scene of violence by right-wing hooligans against high school students protesting an attack on other students by extremists and got so vicious that police had to put up a cordon around the school.

In a feature, Germany’s state broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) reported other nationalist groups are cropping up, along with extremist attacks, because these types breed like cockroaches and you can’t get rid of them.

Konstantinos Tsitselikis, a professor who specializes in human rights and international organizations at the University of Macedonia in Thessaloniki, told DW that the attack in Stavroupoli near Thessaloniki didn’t just happen.

“Unfortunately, there are far-right groups in many schools,” he said. “They are dispersed all over the country, mostly in areas which are economically-deprived, where neo-Nazi groups can easily recruit teenagers. What is worse is that some teachers tolerate this recruitment or even encourage it. It’s a phenomenon that needs more attention.”

This stuff doesn’t end with Golden Dawn and neo-Nazis but public officials too, including a host of municipal leaders and high-level authorities from the now major opposition SYRIZA who were in power when July 23, 2018 wildfires killed 102 people.

They are facing charges of negligence and breach of duty for hiding under their desks and a shambolic response that raised the death toll although party leader and former premier Alexis Tsipras isn’t being prosecuted, curiously.

If any of them, including former deputy fire chief, Vassilis Mattheopoulos, charged with trying to cover up the failures, is tried or convicted and sent to jail they will find some family member with a health problem for quick release.

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