On October 7, after a five-year trial, the leadership of the fascist Golden Dawn (GD) party of Greece was found guilty of criminal actions and the party itself was deemed a “criminal organization.” Fifty-one of the sixty-nine accused received prison terms based on their crimes. It was the longest trial in Greek history since constitutional democracy was established in 1975, after the fascist reign of “the Colonels” following the CIA-backed coup of 1967.
The London Guardian stated that it is the biggest trial of fascists since the end of WWII. Following the fall of the FPÖ in Austria, Marine Le Pen’s defeat by Macron, and the fall of the Salvini government in Italy, this trial represented another important defeat of the Far Right in Europe, although the infrastructure and the threat remains.
More than 200 witnesses testified during the 454 court sessions. The authorities accumulated more than two terabytes of information during the investigation, thus making the process last much longer than expected.
Also, the GD trials were separated into four different cases that constituted the whole process: (1) the planned and intentional assassination of the anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas on September 18, 2013; (2) the murderous night assault on the PAME unionists from the Communist Party of Greece on September 12, 2013; (3) the attack on Egyptian fishermen in Perama region of Piraeus on June 6, 2012, at their residence with the intention of committing murder; and (4) the question as to whether GD overall is a criminal organization and whether the accused leadership is responsible for directing a criminal organization.
The condemnation of GD was not expected by the broad majority of Greek people. The Chief Prosecutor of the case, Adamantia Oikonomou, had tried to absolve the leadership of GD from any connections to the perpetrators of the events that led GD to the initial trial, and to present GD as a legitimate innocent party. However, the Triple Council of Appeal led by the Supreme Court magistrate, Maria Lepenioti, condemned the leadership of GD and the majority of the accused members without any mitigating circumstances.
Years of anti-fascist protests that culminated in a rally of 40,000 people outside the Court the day the verdict was announced played a major role in mobilizing public pressure for the neo-Nazis’ downfall. Additionally, all the parties except the governing New Democracy party sent a representative to the Court as a political gesture in support of the cases against GD.
After the announcement of GD’s conviction on all charges, the Greek anti-riot forces, without any provocation, attacked the peaceful protest, thus dispersing the crowds. It is not the first time that the Greek police have shown sympathy to GD since two police officers were among the condemned. It is also important to note that GD had a lot of electoral support from the police in the elections of 2012 and 2015.
The Committee of Judges under Maria Lepenioti on October 12 affirmed the following sentences of the GD leadership:
- Nikos Michaloliakos (Leader of GD) was sentenced to 13 years and 6 months for directing a criminal organization and illegal possession of firearms.
- Ilias Kasidiaris, former MP of GD and current leader of the far-right “Greeks for the Fatherland” party, was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years and 6 months in prison for directing a criminal organization and illegal possession of firearms.
- Ioannis Lagos, former MP of GD, current independent Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and prominent member of ELASYN far-right party, was found guilty and condemned to 13 years and 8 months of prison. He attended the trial on Monday, October 11, demanding through his lawyer Konstantinos Plevris the change of Judges during the trial. His petition was turned down and thus he was condemned on Tuesday, October 12. Currently, he is in Brussels where various Greek MEPs have tried to rescind his political immunity as MEP. This could be possible through a vote that would rescind those rights. Finally, Europol in collaboration with Greek authorities should transfer him to a Greek prison.
- Georgios Germenis, former MP of GD, alias “Keadas,”, is responsible for directing a criminal organization and was sentenced to 13 years and 6 months in prison.
- Christos Pappas, Vice Leader of GD and former MP, sentenced to 13 years and 3 months in prison.
- Ilias Panagiotaros was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
- Artemis Matthaiopoulos was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Chief Prosecutor Strikes Back
On October 15, in a desperate move, high-ranking GD members and the leadership, including former MPs Michaloliakos, Panagiotaros, Mparmparousis and Kasidiaris appeared in the Court demanding an appeal of the verdict and a suspended sentence. All of the convicted members of GD asked for clemency (except the assassin, G. Roupakias) and emphasized their financial problems and health reasons as excuses.
Adamantia Oikonomou once again managed to reignite the attention of the public opinion on Monday October 19, asking that all the convicted members, including the Directory of the criminal organization except Roupakias, serve suspended sentences. In other words, according to Oikonomou, the moral instigators of the criminal GD should not serve any time in prison. Her request is no surprise because, since December 2019, she has tried to absolve GD of any criminal responsibility.
Finally, on October 22, the Judges, again ignoring the Chief Prosecutor’s statement, decided that suspended sentences would not be given to the convicted members and Directory of GD except for 12 of the 51 convicted.
In other words, the Directory of GD, consisting of, Nikos Michaloliakos, the independent MEP Giannis Lagos, Ilias Kasidiaris, Ilias Panagiotaros, Artemis Matthaiopoulos and Giorgos Germenis, were led to prison alongside the rest of the convicted members of GD. The Vice Leader, Christos Pappas, has fled justice and is in hiding.
The 12 members who were convicted but will serve suspended terms include Eleni Zaroulia (Nikos Michaloliakos’s wife), Michalis Arvanitis, Chrisovalantis Alexopoulos, Stathis Mpoukouras and Dimitris Koukoutsis, former MPs of GD. According to the Court’s verdict, they are obliged to pay 20,000 Euros’ bail and stay in Greece for the duration of their sentence, in this case 6-7 years. It is important to note that Skalkos, Dimou, Marias, Kastrinos, Antonakopoulos, Papadopoulos and Daskalakis, responsible for the attack on the PAME trade unionists and Egyptian fisherman Abuzid Ebarak, received the same sentences as the aforementioned and will serve a suspended sentence until the final decision of the Court of Appeals for third grade felonies.
Is Fascism Waning in Greece?
Although it is an important victory for the anti-fascist movement, since there are now legal precedents for the conviction of a neo-Nazi organization, fascism as an ideology endures and will continue to feed off of racism and the dislocation and anger bred by neoliberalism. The convicted criminals of GD will not serve long prison terms due to new limited sentencing provisions and thus could play a future role in Greek politics.
During the financial crisis from 2009 to roughly 2012, the GD was particularly useful to the various factions of the Greek bourgeoisie as a ‘’golden reserve’’ against the growth of social and anti-austerity progressive and left movements. The New Democracy governing party also used the GD as a bogeyman to legitimize its rule while they imposed harsh economic austerity measures. Reflecting the normalization of the far right, the GD has come to be supplanted in the last few years by the ‘’Greek Solution’’ party whose platform calls for “Greece First” and installation of an electric fence on Greece’s border with Turkey to curb illegal immigration.
When the left becomes stronger and more effectively challenges the corrupt oligarchy and its growing subservience to the U.S., a new GD variant will inevitably reemerge. [See Pompeo in Greece: Expanding the U.S. Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean] The historic convictions on October 7 unfortunately do not mean that the beast has entirely been slain.
Others Who Received Sentences:
Former MPs who were condemned as members of a criminal organization and found without mitigating circumstances.
- Panagiotis Iliopoulos. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Nikos Kouzilos. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Eleni Zaroulia. Wife of Nikos Michaloliakos, sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Polyvios Zisimopoulos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Antonis Gregos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Dimitris Koukoutsis. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Konstantinos Mparmparousis. Sentenced to 6 years in prison. He was also accused for Incitement against the Constitution when he called for the Army to arrest the Greek Parliamentarians. He was found innocent of that charge.
Former MPs who received a sentence but condemned under mitigating circumstances.
- Chrisovalantis Alexopoulos. Sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- Michalis Arvanitis. Sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- Eustathios Mpoukouras. Sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- Nikos Michos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
Sentences for the assassination of Pavlos Fyssas.
- Georgios Roupakias. Assassin of Pavlos Fyssas. Received a life sentence (21-25 years of imprisonment) and 14 years for extortion, illegal possession of firearms and life threats and also for being a member of a criminal organization.
- Ioannis Aggos. Sentenced to 9 years and 2 months in prison.
- Anastasios Anadiotis. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Georgios Dimou. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Ioannis Kazantzoglou. Sentenced to 10 years and 2 months in prison.
- Komianos Ioannis. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- Elpidoforos Kalaritis. Sentenced to 9 years in prison,
- Konstantinos Korkovilis. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- An. Michalaros. Sentenced to 9 years and 2 months in prison.
- Georgios Patelis. Prominent coordinator and leader of the District of Nikaia, Piraeus region where Pavlos Fyssas was assassinated. Received a sentence of 10 years and 2 months in prison.
- G. Skalkos. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- G. Stampelos. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- Georgios Tsakanikas. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Leon Tsalikis. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- Athanasios Tsorvas. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- Nikos Tsorvas. Sentenced to 9 years in prison.
- Ar. Chrisaphitis. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
Sentences for the case of the attack on the Egyptian fishermen.
- Dimitris Agriogiannis. Received a 7-year sentence for intentional and planned attack on Ebarak’s residence.
- Eugenikos Markos. Received a 7-year sentence in prison.
- Thomas Marias. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Konstantinos Papadopoulos. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Anastasios Pantazis. Local GD coordinator and leader in Perama region where the fishermen were wounded. Sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Condemned GD members for the attack on PAME trade unionists in Piraeus.
- Kyriakos Antonakopoulos. Sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison. His term was converted to suspended sentence with a daily fine of 5 Euros for the duration of the suspended sentence.
- Ioannis Kastrinos.Sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison. His term was converted to suspended sentence with a daily fine of 5 Euros.
- Antonis Chatzidakis. Sentenced to 3 years and 6 months in prison. His term was converted to suspended sentence with a daily fine of 5 Euros.
Condemned members of GD on the accusation of being members of a criminal organization.
- Nikos Apostolou. Sentenced to 7 years in prison.
- Aristoteles Daskalakis. Sentenced to 5 years in prison.
- Dionisis Liakopoulos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Thomas Mparekas. Sentenced to 6 years and 2 months in prison.
- Nik. Papavasileiou. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Venetia Popori (Police officer). Sentenced to 7 years and 4 months in prison.
- Basileios Siatounis. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Christos Stergiopoulos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Athanasios Stratos. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Georgios Tsakanikas. Sentenced to 6 years in prison.
- Margarita Mikelatou. Sentenced to 2 years in prison with 3-year suspended sentence.
- Theodoros Stefas. 17 months with 3-year suspended sentence.
- Theoni Skarpeli (Responsible for racist incitement to pogroms in Athens Ag. Panteleimonas neighborhood) Sentenced to 1 year and 1000 Euros’ fine with 3-year suspended sentence.
- Anastasios Chilios. Sentenced to 2 years in prison. Suspended sentence and a fine of 2000 Euros.
Assassination of Shahzad Lukeman.
His assassins Liakopoulos and Stergiopoulos were sentenced to 21 years in prison and 6 years in addition for being members of a criminal organization.
 Abuzid Ebarak was heavily wounded at his residence when an “attack battalion’’ of GD around 15 members attacked during the night.
 ‘’Greek National Conscience’’ party whose leader is none other than Konstantinos Plevris also known as the ‘’patriarch” of Greek fascism.
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About the Author
Andrew Lee is an independent researcher and historian who studies the far-right parties in Greece and the wider region of the Balkans.