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Suspect in student's stabbing alleged to have threatened other pupils

A 22-year-old theology major standing accused of stabbing high-school senior Foivos D. outside his school in Palaio Faliro on Athens's southern coast in January 2013 allegedly threatened other students who had voiced their opposition to neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, of which the suspect is believed to be a member.

Testifying at the Athens court hearing the case on Thursday, a fellow student of Foivos D. said that Giorgos Apsotolopoulos was well known to the school's pupils and had been seen painting swastikas and other Nazi symbols on the walls of the premises. He alleged that it was common knowledge Apostolopoulos was a member of Golden Dawn's youth wing and the ringleader among a group of high-school students who supported the neo-Nazi party.

The witness told the court that he had been subjected to threats after trying to talk to Apostolopoulos's girlfriend, who also attended the school, out of supporting Golden Dawn.

"Just before Christmas [2012] I had seen the defendant and his girlfriend at the school painting swastikas on the wall. The next day I tried to talk to the girl, who was in my class, and I was a bit hard on her. She sent a text message and when I left the school at the end of the day, the defendant and another four people were waiting for me outside. They looked at me in a threatening manner," the teenager told the court.

"The following day I apologized to the girl and we sat down on a bench to talk. The defendant and a few of his friends came over and started pushing me around. He pulled out a flick knife. It was closed but he waved it near my face and shouted: 'Are you playing with madness?'," the witness said. "The only reason I got away was because I apologized."

Foivos D., who underwent surgery after sustaining a deep cut across his face, testified on Wednesday. He was 17 years old at the time of the attack. He told the court that Apostolopoulos and another suspect - who will be tried separately by a juvenile court as he was below the age of 18 when the attack occurred - grabbed him as he as walking to school on the morning of January 28, 2013. He said that Apostolopoulos slashed him across the face with a knife, cutting his nose - which had to be reattached surgically - and part of this throat.

In an effort to explain why he believed he had been targeted by the defendant, Foivos D. told the court that some two months prior to the attack he had taken issue with Apostolopoulos's girlfriend after seeing her draw a swastika on her desk.

"The next day someone had drawn the word 'Antifa' [representing the anti-fascism movement] on her desk and I refused to erase it when she told me to. I can't think what else it could have been; I had never had any problems with them before," Foivos D. said.

"The attack was premeditated because they were waiting for me at a spot outside the school that could not be seen from the schoolyard," he added.

Investigations into the attack have revealed evidence supporting allegations that Apostolopoulos was an active supporter of Golden Dawn, which is the subject of an ongoing judicial inquiry into its alleged criminal activities.

The trial has been adjourned until April 30.

ekathimerini.com , Thursday April 24, 2014 (16:19)  
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