NEWS

Golden Dawn trial to start Monday amid continued concern over venue

The trial of ultranationalist party Golden Dawn, accused of constituting a criminal organization, is due to begin on April 20 amid continued concerns that the venue where it is scheduled to take place is unsuitable.

The landmark trial, which represents the first time since World War II that a Greek parliamentary party faces criminal charges, will see some 70 defendants taking the stand at the court house of Korydallos Prison, where the defendants are being held.

Municipal authorities in Korydallos, a suburb of the capital’s port city of Piraeus, have petitioned for the trial to be moved to a different venue amid concerns that it will attract far-right supporters as well as groups opposed to the party, posing a security risk.

“The trial cannot and must not be held here,” Korydallos Mayor Stavros Kasimatis told AFP last week. “This is Greece’s biggest trial in 40 years. It will last at least 18 months. There will be gatherings by anti-fascist groups, and Golden Dawn supporters will perhaps muster as well.”

Judicial circles have also expressed reservations over whether the prison court will be large enough to accommodate the defendants, their lawyers, the prosecution, dozens of witnesses and a small army of Greek and foreign media that is expected to follow the proceedings.

Golden Dawn came under criminal investigation in September 2013 following the murder of singer Pavlos Fyssas, whose lyrics expressed anti-fascist sentiments, by a member of the far-right party. It is the prosecutor’s assertion that Giorgos Roupakias, who has allegedly confessed to fatally stabbing Fyssas, was not acting alone but on orders from the party, which operates with a strict hierarchy.

The party is also accused to inciting racism and orchestrating dozens of attacks against political opponents and migrants.

All of the party’s current and former MPs, including its leader, Nikos Michaloliakos (photo), will face the judges.