Leaders of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party heading to prison

The leaders and dozens of members of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party found guilty a few days ago of operating the party as a criminal organization were heading to prison on Thursday.

The Athens Appeals Court ruled that only 12 of the 57 convicted should not be imprisoned immediately. They were allowed to remain free pending appeal, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported.

Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, who received a 13-year prison sentence, and a dozen former members of parliament (MPs) were to be taken to jail on Thursday, according to procedures.

Speaking to local media, Michaloliakos claimed once again that he was sentenced for his ideas.

In a unanimous ruling on Oct. 7, Greek judges said that the Golden Dawn party, which was present in parliament between 2012 and 2019, was actually a criminal organization “wearing the cloak of a political party” and was linked to dozens of attacks against migrants and political opponents between 2008 and 2013.

The judicial crackdown started after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old Greek anti-fascist activist musician, by Yorgos Roupakias, a Golden Dawn supporter, at a Piraeus port suburb in autumn 2013.

The verdict came five years after the start of a marathon trial, and it took two more weeks for the court to rule on suspensions for the dozens of defendants.

Greek authorities will have to request the extradition of Ioannis Lagos, who is currently serving as an independent member of the European Parliament.

A total of 68 defendants stood trial on charges ranging from murder to extortion and illegal weapons possession.

Golden Dawn entered the Greek Parliament in 2012 riding on the wave of discontent over the harsh austerity imposed to address a severe debt crisis, which brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.

Following Greece’s exit from the bailout period in 2018, the party failed to win seats in Parliament in the 2019 general elections and has been crumbling since then.