Call to lift Golden Dawn MPs’ immunity

Fierce response from neofascist MPs as investigating judges ask Parliament to remove their protection

Magistrates probing the activities of Golden Dawn to determine whether it constitutes a criminal organization Thursday submitted a request to Parliament to lift the immunity of nine more MPs so that charges could be brought against them.

Should lawmakers accept their request, all of the neofascist party’s 18 deputies, including its jailed leader Nikos Michaloliakos, would face charges.

The magistrates’ request concerns MPs Eleni Zaroulia, who is married to Michaloliakos, Nikos Kouzilos, Michalis Arvanitis-Avramis, Antonis Gregos, Polyvios Zisimopoulos, Artemis Mattheopoulos, Constantinos Barbarousis, Dimitris Koukoutsis and Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos.

Also, judges said additional charges should be laid against jailed Michaloliakos, Yiannis Lagos and Giorgos Germenis, as well as Nikos Michos and Ilias Kasidiaris. The last two MPs also face criminal charges but are not in custody. Fresh charges will involve possession of firearms and ammunition with the aim to supply a criminal organization.

The judges’ report, which was seen Thursday by Kathimerini, is based on 115 testimonies and evidence collected during a wave of house searches during a crackdown on the organization prompted by the murder of anti-fascist musician Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn supporter last September. The text portrays Golden Dawn as a vertically structured organization that operates along military lines and which is inspired by the ideals of national socialism with clear references to Hitler and Nazism.

The news sparked a fiery response from Golden Dawn MPs Thursday. Speaking in Parliament, Mattheopoulos, who is the party’s parliamentary spokesman, called the country’s New Democracy-PASOK government a “junta” and attacked the media and the judges probing the party.

“Enjoy it while you can, because May is near,” Mattheopoulos said of the country’s upcoming local and European elections. Poll ratings show that Golden Dawn is the third most popular party ahead of the vote.

Earlier, several Golden Dawn MPs, including party spokesman Kasidiaris, verbally abused members of New Democracy and PASOK inside the corridors of the House.