Golden Dawn on Monday called on its supporters to join a rally in central Athens on Saturday to demand the release from pretrial custody of its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, and two other detained lawmakers as an investigation into the party’s alleged criminal activities broadens even as its popularity edges up.
Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris said protesters would gather at Syntagma Square at 7 p.m. on Saturday before marching to the Justice Ministry, demanding the release of Michaloliakos as well as Christos Pappas and Yiannis Lagos. Leftist groups responded by calling an anti-fascist demonstration, which is to begin at 4 p.m. on Saturday outside Athens University.
Kasidiaris was speaking after three of the party’s MPs – Giorgos Germenis, Panayiotis Iliopoulos and Stathis Boukouras – appeared before magistrates to respond to charges of being part of a criminal organization.
The three lawmakers were given until December 7 to prepare their defense after asking for more time to look through the bulky case file. They are among nine GD MPs who face criminal charges following a police crackdown on the party in late September which was triggered by the killing of a leftist rapper by a self-professed supporter of Golden Dawn.
Public support for the party slumped immediately after the crackdown but rose again earlier this month following the fatal shooting of two Golden Dawn members by members of a previously unknown leftist guerrilla group. The party is now polling at around 10 percent, in third place after conservative New Democracy and the leftist opposition SYRIZA, which are neck and neck at around 29 percent.