Former leading Golden Dawn officials cleared of inciting racist violence

Former leading Golden Dawn officials cleared of inciting racist violence

Three former leading figures in the now-defunct neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party were cleared of inciting racist violence in a case relating to derogatory comments allegedly made against Muslim lawmakers in Parliament in March 2018.

According to the case file, Nikos Michaloliakos, Ilias Kasidiaris and Panagiotis Iliopoulos stated during a debate in a parliamentary committee that Greek Muslim lawmakers are “agents of Turkey” as they have a “Turkish [ethnic] conscience.”

The judge sided with the prosecutor’s recommendation who asked for charges to be dropped, stating that Michaloliakos and Iliopoulos did not participate in the committee in question, while the comments themselves do not qualify as racist speech or incite racist violence. 

“A representative of the Republic of Cyprus participated in this committee. All that is being claimed about Turkish agents is not true. The Ethics Committee had imposed a penalty on me because I clashed with other MPs and not with the particular minority MP,” Kasidiaris, who was the only defendant present in court, said in his testimony. “I never referred to ethnic origin or national consciousness. I only referred to the statements of [Turkish president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”

Michaloliakos and Iliopoulos’ lawyers said their clients were not present during the debate. 

The case against the three former lawmakers, who are currently behind bars after being convicted of running a criminal organization, was initiated after a criminal complaint filed by Panagiotis Dimitras, Director of the Hellenic Observatory of the Helsinki Accords. 

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