Golden Dawn MPs appear in court as probe continues for more evidence

Four Golden Dawn MPs were taken to court on Tuesday to begin their depositions following their weekend arrests as authorities sought to gather more evidence that could be used to convict members of the neo-Nazi group.

Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was escorted to Athens’s main court complex by members of the anti-terrorism squad. He was joined by fellow Golden Dawn lawmakers Ilias Panayiotaros, Yiannis Lagos and Nikos Michos. “We are as clean as crystal,” Panayiotaros shouted to journalists as he was taken into the building.

The four deputies, along with party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and his number two Christos Pappas, face charges of heading a criminal organization responsible for a range of felonies, including murder, assault, blackmail and money laundering.

Kasidiaris was the first to give his deposition, which lasted five hours and finished late on Tuesday. Reports suggested he argued that the charges against him and fellow lawmakers are politically motivated to deny the party a strong showing in May’s local elections, when Kasidiaris was expected to run for Athens mayor.

Much of the evidence against the party MPs and members is based on wiretaps and mobile phone records. The anti-terrorism squad on Tuesday asked for permission from Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis to probe the cell phone records of another 25 people, including some who appear to be connected to the murder of Pavlos Fyssas on September 17.

Phone records give authorities the opportunity to establish the hierarchy within the party. In the case of Fyssas’s murder, his attacker Giorgos Roupakias called his local cell leader Giorgos Patelis, who in turn called the local Golden Dawn MP, Lagos, who then phoned Michaloliakos. This is totally in keeping with the chain of command set out in the party’s charter and appears to strengthen the argument that Michaloliakos and his MPs knew about the violent attacks and murders carried out by party members.

Kathimerini understands that other Golden Dawn MPs, beyond the six arrested over the weekend, and members could be prosecuted using this approach.

Earlier on Tuesday, two suspected Golden Dawn members who have been linked to events surrounding Fyssas’s murder appeared before the magistrate and were bailed pending trial. Both men deny involvement in Golden Dawn. A third suspect was given until Thursday to prepare his deposition.

Eight Golden Dawn members are due to appear before the magistrate on Wednesday morning. Michaloliakos is due to be transferred to the court complex at 3.30 p.m.

Meanwhile, the police’s internal affairs department is continuing its checks on officers with links to Golden Dawn. Sources told Kathimerini that the former head of the Aghios Panteleimonas precinct in central Athens, who is now working for the security police, is being investigated.

A 25-year-old constable who had been assigned to guard Golden Dawn MP Efstathios Boukouras was suspended on Tuesday after checks revealed he was illegally holding gun cartridges at his home. A 55-year-old police sergeant who was guarding another far-right lawmaker, Giorgos Germenis, was arrested for having forged documents and weapons at his home. Inspectors found two vehicles bearing forged license plates at the property, as well as metal clubs, knuckle dusters and other items.

A 41-year-old constable who was a known supporter of Golden Dawn was arrested in Thessaloniki for selling firearms online. In total, nine police officers have been arrested since last week as part of the probe into the links between the neo-Nazi party and law enforcement.

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