MPs debate stopping funding, lifting immunity of Golden Dawn

MPs agreed on Thursday on the need to suspend state funding to parties such as ultra-right Golden Dawn whose senior representatives are implicated in criminal activities, though there was debate on the conditions under which such a ban should be applied.

The matter is to be resolved next Thursday in Parliament’s plenary session, a day after MPs are to vote on whether or not to lift the immunity of seven Golden Dawn MPs so they can be charged in connection with an ongoing judicial probe into whether the party operated as a criminal organization and for various other offenses. Parliament’s ethics committee Thursday indicated that it was in favor of lifting the immunity of GD deputies Ilias Panagiotaros, Ilias Kasidiaris, Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos, Efstathios Boukouras and Eleni Zaroulia. The first two MPs were among six arrested at the end of last month as part of a government crackdown on the ultra-right Golden Dawn in the wake of a prosecutor’s report describing the party as a criminal organization.

As regards the issue of state funding, a legislative amendment proposed by the government foresees a ban being imposed when a party leader or at least one-tenth of the party’s deputies are charged with felonies.

The main left-wing opposition SYRIZA has proposed a less strict formula according to which funding would be suspended when a party’s leader or at least half of its political council are convicted of membership of a criminal organization and then again only subject to the ban being approved by an “enhanced” majority of 180 in the 300-seat Parliament.

In a related development, Giorgos Roupakias, the 45-year-old self-professed Golden Dawn supporter who has been charged with the murder last month of the leftist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, was given an extension to prepare his defense before an investigating magistrate until Tuesday.