Leader of Greek far-right Golden Dawn party jailed pending trial

Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos has been ordered to remain in custody pending trial on charges of belonging to a criminal group.

During a marathon session at the Evelpidon court complex in Athens that went on until the early hours of Thursday, Michaloliakos denied charges that he set up and participated in a criminal organization. He said the charges were politically-motivated.

“I condemn violence. I am not a Nazi,” said the 56-year-old mathematician, adding that he had no knowledge if individual members of Golden Dawn have broken the law.

“Long live Greece, victory,” Michaloliakos said as he left the court.

His wife and daughter, joined by other Golden Dawn lawmakers, waited outside the court during a rainy night for the outcome of the hearing. “You are a diamond, don’t buckle,” Eleni Zaroulia told him.

Earlier, as Mihaloliakos was brought to court by police, about 200 party supporters carrying Greek flags shouted, “Blood, honor, Golden Dawn.”

The decision on Michaloliakos followed a testimony by Giorgos Patelis, the head of the local chapter of Golden Dawn in Nikaia, southwest of Athens, close to the run-down district of Keratsini where 34-year-old rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed by a party member. Patelis, whose testimony was completed around 3.30 a.m. on Thursday, was also remanded in custody.

On Wednesday, three senior Golden Dawn lawmakers were freed pending trial – a surprise decision that fueled skepticism about the solidity of the state’s case against the ultranationalist party.

Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris and fellow lawmakers Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos stormed out of the court to cheers of “bravo” from supporters. They kicked and shoved journalists out of the way before hailing a taxi.

A fourth MP, Yiannis Lagos, was remanded in custody after a prosecutor and magistrate agreed that he was both a flight risk and likely to reoffend. It remained unclear why judicial officials believed that the same did not apply to Michos or to Kasidiaris, who faces a separate trial for assaulting two female MPs on live television last year.

Kasidiaris on Thursday slammed the decision to remand his leader in custody.

“We are faced with the biggest frame-up in Greece’s modern political history,” he said.

“It is an unfair, unconstitutional [decision], that has been dictated by foreign centers of power,” he said.

In comments made public on Thursday, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said police had fully responded to demands by judicial officials.

“We shall go all the way, we shall fight them everywhere. It is our democratic duty,” he said.

Golden Dawn’s second-in-command according to prosecutors, Christos Pappas, is scheduled to appear before a magistrate on Thursday. His testimony was postponed after 1 p.m. Skai TV reported earlier Thursday.

Late on Wednesday police announced the arrest of Golden Dawn candidate Themis Skordeli. Reports said police found 145,000 euros in her apartment.

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