OPINION

Dismantling the attack squads is a political issue

Much of the news about the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party’s criminal activities was not really news. A great deal of the snowballing revelations making headlines these days had been known for a long time and they had been reported on extensively both at home and abroad.

Earlier this week Greek Ombudsman Calliope Spanou spoke to Parliament and informed members of the House that there were more than 281 confirmed racist attacks in the country over the course of 16 months between January 2012 and April 2013, leading to at least four murders and 400 injuries.

It is extremely worrying that over the same period, just 84 incidents had been recorded by the Hellenic Police. Even more worrying, of course, is the tardiness and inaction – the more critical would say tolerance and encouragement – displayed by the authorities toward the repeated criminal acts carried out by neo-Nazi thugs.

Now the wave of investigations and the removals of high-ranking officials ordered by Public Order Nikos Dendias this week expose the depth and the extent of the dubious entanglement between the neo-Nazi organization and a considerable number of functionaries in the state apparatus.

One of the first questions that inevitably emerges is the following: Will the ongoing investigation really drill to the bone of the problem? Will the authorities establish any links between neo-Nazis and organized crime and then impose sanctions on the culprits? (It’s important to note here that these links had already been underscored by reports back in 2009-2010, and at almost the same time as the appearance of what the media dubbed “indignant residents” in the Aghios Panteleimonas district of central Athens, and shortly before Nikos Michaloliakos’s party gained a presence in City Hall.

A second question is: Will the authorities manage to follow the trail of money from and to the party? When investigating any criminal organization, it is crucial to follow the money.

How was Golden Dawn able to finance its activities?

Greek authorities have in the past shown that they can be effective provided, first, that the political elite has clearly and consistently expressed its will to deal with a matter in question and, second, that the investigation is led by honest and dedicated officials – which again is in the hands of the political leadership.

Whichever way you chose to see it, dismantling Golden Dawn’s attack squads is a political issue.