Leaders of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party to stand trial on April 20

Senior members of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party will stand trial on April 20 after spending almost 18 months in detention waiting for their case to be heard, court officials said on Monday.

Party leader Mihaloliakos and more than a dozen top figures in Golden Dawn were arrested on charges of founding and participating in a criminal organisation following the killing of an anti-fascism rapper in 2013 by a party supporter.

The party denies the allegations and says the defendants are victims of a political witch-hunt. If found guilty, they face up to 20 years in prison.

The stabbing shocked Greece and triggered nationwide protests leading to a government-led crackdown on the party, which entered parliament for the first time in 2012 as it tapped into voter anger over the collapsing economy.

Under Greek law, suspects can only be held for 18 months before a case comes to court. As a result, Mihaloliakos and senior lawmaker Christos Pappas are due to be released from detention in the coming weeks, ahead of their trial.

A total of 70 people will face trial, including all of the 16 lawmakers Golden Dawn had in the previous parliament, which was dissolved for a Jan. 25 snap election.

Thirteen of the lawmakers were re-elected, including Mihaloliakos and Pappas, along with four new members, making Golden Dawn the joint third largest party in parliament. [Reuters]

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