ATHENS – Judges at the Athens Appeals Court are expected to announce sentences for the convicted leaders and members of the criminal organization Golden Dawn, formerly a political party, at 12 midday on Wednesday.
Earlier today, a Greek prosecutor has recommended a life sentence for the Golden Dawn member convicted of killing anti-Fascist hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas and 13 years in jail for the hierarchy of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party convicted of running a criminal gang.
It was the killing of Fyssas in 2013 by Giorgos Roupakias, whose lawyer said he too had suffered because he was confined to house arrest, that triggered a probe into Golden Dawn, which was then in Parliament.
The trial went into a fifth year and ended little more than a year after the party was swept out of office in July 7, 2019 snap elections, its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos and the other 17 former lawmakers denying any wrongdoing.
The proposals followed a two-day court discussion involving the lawyers for the defense who argued for more lenient sentences, pleading for softer terms for the Golden Dawn convicts who had been belligerent until now.
They weren't compelled to be in court for the trial, the arguments over mitigation circumstances and won't even have to appear for the sentencing, after which arrest warrants would be issued unless they turn themselves in.
Prosecutor Adamandia Economou also suggested six to eight years in prison for the accomplices in Fyssas’ murder, seven years to other former lawmakers, or five for the four former MPs for whom the court accepted reasons for leniency.
Concerning a 2013 violent attack against Egyptian fishermen by a Golden Dawn gang, the prosecutor suggested seven to ten years for those involved but defense lawyers were set to offer counter arguments, which could last through Oct. 15.
The proceedings were delayed until a key party member, Member of the European Parliament Ioannis Lagos returned from Brussels to appear in court, coming back voluntarily after indications EU colleagues were going to strip his immunity and allow extradition.
Lagos said the court should recuse itself and start over – the trial went into a fifth year – because he said the judges were prejudiced against the party, but the argument was dismissed out of hand.
Michaloliakos, who had been defiant and showed open contempt – as he did for Parliament while serving there – and his top cohorts, Lagos, Christos Pappas, Artemis Matthaiopoulos, Ilias Panagiotaros, Ilias Kasidiaris and Giorgos Germenis, faced terms of 5-15 years.
Besides four of the party's members, the court allowed mitigating circumstances for only 10 of the 50 other party members on trial, one of whom said he shouldn't go to jail because he married the same woman twice.
The entreaties were a far cry from Golden Dawn's tough stance while in Parliament before also being bounced, narrowly, in the 2019 elections, and as the leaders denounced the trial as political.
The sentencing was due to begin Oct. 12 but pushed back when Lagos showed up and said the court should recuse itself, a move that didn't last long before it was tossed.
“I believe that there is a prevailing bias against the defendants and that the judges involved in the case came under direct and indirect pressure from the political establishment,” Lagos said, without naming who brought it.
Still, a new panel of judges was appointed anyway to consider his demand, which a prosecutor proposed be rejected on the basis of lack of evidence, and after several hours dismissed his appeal without an explanation why the judges stepped aside.
Lagos' demand, said Kathimerini, was orchestrated by the party's leaders to change the makeup of the court and bring them easier terms which didn't work out for them.