After a hiatus of almost five months, the trial of senior members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party resumed on Wednesday, albeit before an almost empty courtroom as most of the defendants did not show up – just six of a total of 68 appeared – while most of their lawyers were absent.
The trial held at Athens’s Korydallos Prison was initially billed as Greece’s “Trial of the Century,” but has suffered from repeated delays since it began last year and was suspended in January due to the ongoing lawyers’ strike. It resumed on Wednesday after prosecution attorneys received permission from their bar associations in Athens and Piraeus to attend.
However, the absence of lawyers representing the defense – due to the strike – forced the court to appoint lawyers for some of the defendants as was the case with high-profile defendant Giorgos Roupakias, who murdered leftist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013. This could cause more delays as the newly appointed lawyers may ask for more time to brief themselves on the case.
Proceedings are scheduled to resume on Thursday – barring any other legal glitches.
The much publicized trial began more than a year ago, with 68 members of the party, including its leader Nikos Michaloliakos, facing charges of running a criminal organization, including extortion, attempted murder and the killing of Fyssas, which essentially kick-started legal proceedings.
All those charged were released from custody after completing a maximum of 18 months in pretrial detention and are now under house arrest. Most have opted not to appear in court during the trial.
The neo-Nazi party swept into Parliament in 2012 on a wave of popular discontent bred by Greece’s financial crisis.