Racist beating trial postponed

A court in Greece on Wednesday postponed for the sixth time the trial of three Greeks, including a neo-Nazi parliament candidate, accused of beating up three Afghan immigrants in Athens a year ago.

The defence requested the delay in order to obtain testimony from a police patrolman who allegedly caught the defendants in the act.

The trial has now been set for September 25.

One of the accused, a woman named Themis Skordeli, recently failed to get elected to parliament with the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn group which boosted its support in the May 6 ballot on growing immigration and crime fears.

Skordeli has been identified as a member of an Athens anti-migrant patrol group formed in poorer districts of the capital with the help of far-right militants.

Around a hundred leftist activists had gathered outside the courthouse, shouting slogans against the far-right and the police, and hurling projectiles at the accused, who were evacuated by a strong police escort.

A Greek representative for Human Rights Watch, Eva Cosse, said the postponement was ?very worrying.? ?Greek justice should take efficient action against racist violence which is multiplying in the country,? Cosse told AFP.

The defendants face a five-year prison term if convicted.

The case is the first of its kind to come to trial in over a decade, although attacks on migrants have become increasingly common in recession-hit Greece.

On Tuesday, a violent anti-migrant protest took place in the western port of Patras after a 30-year-old Greek was fatally stabbed over the weekend in a dispute with three men believed to be Afghan nationals.

Police said they fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of around 350 people, mainly Golden Dawn supporters, who tried to storm an abandoned factory where homeless migrants have taken shelter.

The protesters threw stones, flares and firebombs at the police, damaging a police bus, a squad car and two motorbikes.

Eight policemen were hurt. Five people were arrested. [AFP]