Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Wednesday directly condemned the increasingly aggressive behavior of members of the extreme-right Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) and heralded stricter laws for racist violence with jail sentences of up to three years.
Addressing a press conference just a few days after lawmakers and supporters of Golden Dawn carried out raids on migrant street vendors in Rafina, northeast of Athens, and Mesolongi, in western Greece, Roupakiotis made his first pointed attack against the extreme-right group, noting that their acts ?violate traditional legal principles and create the conditions for the rise of neofascist practices.? He said it was a great danger when ?certain people try to take the place of the state,? an apparent reference to members of Golden Dawn who visited open-air markets over the weekend, demanding to see the police identification cards of vendors and trashing stalls being run by immigrants.
In a bid to curb the increase in racist assaults, which have been widely linked to far-rightists, Roupakiotis heralded the introduction of legislative amendments foreseeing jail terms of up to three years for offenders found guilty. Under the new law, there would be fewer cases where sentences could be subject to suspension or could be paid off by the offenders, the minister added.
Meanwhile two men were handed eight-month suspended jail sentences by a prosecutor in Mesolongi after being found guilty of usurping authority when they tried to conduct ID checks on traders at a local street market. Another two men detained on the same charges were cleared. The four were reported to authorities by a 58-year-old Greek female vendor who refused to present them with her police ID card.
In a related development, regional education authorities in Achaia were reportedly investigating a primary school teacher in the western port of Patra who allegedly referred to Golden Dawn in an address to his class. The teacher is alleged to have suggested that the local chapter of the party could be contacted to help fund the renovation of the school building, prompting angry reactions by the parents of many schoolchildren.