2 Oct 2013

Golden Dawn MPs taken to court

6:11 am on 2 October 2013

Four MPs from the Golden Dawn party in Greece were taken to court in Athens on Tuesday to face charges of criminal activity amid a clampdown on the party. Other charges against them include murder, assault and money-laundering.

They were arrested over the weekend. The BBC reports party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and his deputy Christos Pappas are expected to appear in court on Wednesday or Thursday.

It is the first time since 1974 that a party leader and MPs have been arrested.

In all 22 people are in detention over the rapper Pavlos Fyssas, 34, an anti-racist musician on 18 September.

A man held for the stabbing told police he was a Golden Dawn supporter, though the party strongly denies any link.

The four MPs - Ilias Panagiotaros, party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, Yannis Lagos and Nikos Michos - were formally charged on Tuesday.

Golden Dawn has been accused of perpetrating attacks on migrants and political opponents in recent months.

The BBC reports court documents containing witness testimony show the party is organised along the lines of the Nazis in pre-World War II Germany.

It operates on a strict hierarchical structure and has assault squads and military-style training. Searches of the homes of some MPs have found Nazi paraphernalia.

Golden Dawn officially denies being a neo-Nazi movement, though its badge resembles a swastika and some senior members have praised Adolf Hitler.