Greek MPs on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly in favor of expanding a criminal investigation against neofascist Golden Dawn after the party’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos made his first appearance in Parliament since he was jailed pending trial eight months ago, using the opportunity to curse the government and hail GD’s strong showing in last month’s elections.
Of the 224 MPs who voted, all but one favored illegal weapons charges being brought against Michaloliakos and another MP, Yiannis Lagos, with the same number voting in favor of lifting the the immunity of the party’s number two, Christos Pappas, on charges of creating an illegal archive, a reference to Nazi literature found in his home. In each case, one MP voted present.
The three MPs, who already face charges of running a criminal organization, all addressed the House before the vote. They all insisted that a criminal probe into the party is politically motivated and claimed to have been approached by prominent officials of conservative New Democracy, which leads the coalition.
“You are guilty of a political frame-up,” GD’s leader told governing officials. He said he was “proud to be persecuted for my ideas,” calling the handcuffs he wore during the transfer to Parliament from Korydallos Prison “a badge of honor.”
On his arrival at Parliament earlier in the day, Michaloliakos declared himself “the leader of the country’s third party,” a reference to GD’s strong performance in last month’s European Parliament and local authority elections. GD’s leader claimed to have been in contact with the press officer of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Giorgos Mouroutis, and with two ND MPs.
He also claimed to have had close ties in the past with Panayiotis Baltakos, a former aide to Samaras who was sacked after a video showed him discussing a judicial probe into GD with the party’s spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris. Mouroutis dismissed the claims as “the most obscene thing I’ve ever heard.”
During the tense session, dozens of supporters rallied outside Parliament. Earlier, some of them managed to enter the building.