Acquittal of left-wing intellectual and ex-rector met with cheers

A court in Athens Wednesday cleared a left-wing intellectual and the former rector of the National Technical University of Athens over charges that they conspired to encourage violence after a lawsuit was brought against them by members of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

The judge at the misdemeanors court found that Savvas Michail, the general secretary of the Workers’ Revolutionary Party (EEK), a tiny Trotskyist group, and ex-NTUA rector Constantinos Moutzouris not guilty of defamation, incitement to violence and breaching the peace.

Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayiotoras was among those who brought the legal action against the two men after an article by Michail quoting the slogan “The people don’t forget; they hang fascists” was published on the radical Indymedia website in May 2009. Golden Dawn members claimed Moutzouris allowed NTUA computer servers to be used by Indymedia.

Panayiotaros and Golden Dawn parliamentary candidate Themis Skordeli did not attend the trial despite being the main prosecution witnesses. Two SYRIZA MPs, Tassos Kourakis and Zoe Constantopoulou, gave evidence in favor of the defendants.

Dozens of Michail’s supporters greeted the verdict with cheers. The prosecutor had earlier also recommended that the two men be acquitted.

The case had gained international attention over the past few days, partly as a result of the fact that Michail is Jewish and Golden Dawn has strong anti-Semitic views, including denying the Holocaust took place.

“It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Savvas has been selected not only as a radical but as a Jew,” Maria Margaronis wrote in The Guardian this week.

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