Police officers escort convicted members of Golden Dawn out of the Athens Appeals Court complex on Thursday. Many ex-MPs of the neo-Nazi party were arrested or handed themselves in. [Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters]
An Athens court on Thursday rejected a prosecutor’s call for the leadership of Golden Dawn, and dozens of its members, to have their prison sentences suspended, paving the way for them to go to jail and wrapping up Greece’s most significant political trial in recent decades.
The ruling came more than two weeks after the court declared Golden Dawn a criminal organization and a week after sentencing its leadership to long prison terms.
According to the decision, which was announced by presiding judge Maria Lepenioti, 38 of the 50 people convicted of belonging to the crime syndicate will go to jail with only 12 – including five former MPs – getting the suspensions they had requested.
By late last night some of the party’s prominent former MPs were in custody. Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos was led out of his home by police officers shortly after telling Greek television that he was proud to be jailed for his ideas. Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris handed himself over to police, as did Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and others.
Magda Fyssa, the mother of murdered leftist musician Pavlos Fyssas, told reporters that she felt vindicated by the court, which also sent GD member Giorgos Roupakias to life plus 14 years for that crime.