Judges warn GD holdups over lifting of immunity could lead to suspects' release

The magistrates handling the investigation into the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party’s alleged illegal activities warned Parliament Wednesday that some of the suspects in the case could be released from custody before their trials begin.

In their note to MPs, magistrates Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou warned that the case files have not yet been closed and that there is a distinct possibility the maximum time some of the suspects can be held in pretrial custody will expire before their court dates are set. The judges indicated that delays in lifting Golden Dawn MPs’ parliamentary immunity are hampering the progress of the investigation.

On April 2, Parliament voted to lift the immunity of another four Golden Dawn MPs on charges of setting up a criminal organization. This brought the total number of neo-Nazi MPs facing prosecution on charges of setting up a criminal investigation to 13. Six of the 13 are in jail, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos.

However, apart from the main charge of setting up and participating in a criminal gang that has been leveled against Golden Dawn lawmakers, they have also been accused of a range of other offenses. Each of these charges requires Parliament’s plenary to vote to lift the deputies’ immunity.

Supreme Court prosecutor Efterpi Koutzamani asked Parliament on Tuesday to lift the immunity of Golden Dawn lawmaker Artemis Matthaiopoulos so he can face theft charges in connection with a mugging in central Athens in 2005. According to the case file submitted by Koutzamani to the House, Matthaiopoulos and several accomplices used threats and violence to steal a bag from a local in the area of the Ancient Agora in August 2005.

Also on Wednesday, the leader of the ultra-nationalist Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) submitted a request to the Supreme Court for an investigation into whether the claims made by ex-cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos in a secretly filmed conversation with Golden Dawn spokesman were true. Baltakos suggested that the probe into the far-right party had been politically influenced.