Verdict due in Golden Dawn criminal trial

Verdict due in Golden Dawn criminal trial

An Athens court is on Wednesday to issue its long-awaited verdict in the trial against Golden Dawn, which started more than five years ago, ruling on whether the neo-Nazi party should be found guilty of operating as a criminal organization.

The decision is due to be announced at 11 a.m. by presiding judge Maria Lepeniotou and thousands of police officers will be deployed outside the court complex on Alexandras Avenue where rallies are planned by leftist and student groups. 

The court is expected to initially rule on whether GD operated as a criminal organization, systematically targeting migrants and leftists, before announcing verdicts separately for the 68 defendants, including the party’s political leadership.

GD’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other former MPs are not expected to be in court for the verdict. 

If the court deems that the party was a criminal organization, ordering a series of attacks including the fatal stabbing of rapper Pavlos Fyssas, which sparked the judicial probe that led to the trial, it is expected to take several days to determine sentencing for the defendants. In such an event, defendants will appeal for reduced terms, which will likely delay sentencing for a few days as the court deliberates.

However, if the court adopts the proposal made by prosecutor Adamantia Economou, who has called for the exoneration of all GD party officials, deeming that there is no evidence that they had any part in the planning or execution of the crimes they have been accused of, there will be no delays. Such a verdict is likely to fuel protests, however.

Some 2,000 police officers are to be deployed in the streets around the court to ensure that protesters and supporters of Golden Dawn are kept apart. 

On Tuesday, Greek political parties roundly condemned GD, which failed to re-enter Parliament last year.

“New Democracy is and was a perennial adversary to every [force] that undermines the state and [political] normalcy,” government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.

Meanwhile the leader of leftist SYRIZA, Alexis Tsipras, called on people to attend rallies outside the courthouse Wednesday, accusing GD of “sowing hate, beating, murdering.”

“They are not innocent,” he said. 

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