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Jailed MP in tears as parliament lifts his immunity from prosecution

Four MPs elected with Golden Dawn now face criminal charges

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Golden Dawn MP Yiorgos Germenis and now independent MP Stathis Boukouras granted permission to attend vote on stripping their parliamentary immunity on criminal charges

Stathis Boukouras, an independent MP elected with Golden Dawn, cries while addressing parliament (Photo: AFP) Stathis Boukouras, an independent MP elected with Golden Dawn, cries while addressing parliament (Photo: AFP) Parliament has voted to lift the immunity of four MPs elected with Golden Dawn in the last election, paving the way for them to be put on trial on various criminal charges.

Two of the MPs were remanded in custody in January and were taken from prison to parliament in handcuffs to attend the vote. Yiorgos Germenis, who remains in Golden Dawn, and Stathis Boukouras, who was expelled by the neonazi party in March, were granted permission to attend the vote. They appeared in the chamber without handcuffs. 

Both MPs face charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives with the intent of supplying a criminal organisation.

Parliament also decided on withdrawing immunity from two other MPs elected for Golden Dawn: Nikos Michos, held on on firearms and explosives charges as well as a drugs-related charge, and Valantis Alexopoulos, accused of joining and running a criminal organisation. Alexopoulos resigned from the party in March.

Speaking from the podium, Boukouras cried throughout his seven-minute address to his fellow MPs. "Some laugh and mock me," he said, weeping, claiming he was proud to represent the people in parliament. 

"I am a child of simple stock and have worked since I was 15. I went to bed a baker and woke up an MP and I'm proud of that. My children visit me in prison once a week for an hour and they ask me 'why are you in prison' and I look them in the eyes and don't know what to say. Tell me, why am I in prison! I never did anything to deserve it here. It just happened that I became a Golden Dawn MP. I'm not a fascist, I'm not a Nazi. I'm a patriot. I'm left standing because of psychotropic drugs: Lexotanil and Ladose," he said.

Boukouras, who in the past has said he was a member of Pasok, added that he became a nationalist while following Andreas Papadreou, the founder of that party, and his slogan "Greece for the Greeks".

Alexopoulos said that he had sought to distance himself from illegal activity being carried out by Golden Dawn and now feared for himself and his family.

The motions to lift the MPs' immunity were passed with the support of between 182 (in Boukaras' case), 183 (for Alexopoulos) and 197 (in the case of Germinis and Michos) votes. Parliament has 300 members. 

The debate was carried out in accordance with article 108, paragraph 1, which gives an MP the right to address the plenum when objecting to the public prosecutor's demand to remove his or her immunity from prosecution.

'Criminal organisation'

Meanwhile, it emerged on Tuesday that the investigating magistrates involved in preparing the case file against the four MPs believe that Golden Dawn was founded in 1987 as a criminal organisation with "political and operational branches".

Ioanna Klapa and Maria Dimitropoulou said Golden Dawn, which began as a small and tight-knit group involved in neo-Nazi indoctrination, "morphed into a political group under the same name, Popular Union-Golden Dawn, following the same ideological direction as Adolf Hitler's Nazi party.

In their charges, the two investigators noted that their "political" section focused on "destroying the enemies of the nation", which for the party included migrants, Roma and anyone not belonging to the so-called Aryan or Caucasian race. These aims were in direct violation of the Greek constitution and international treaties that guarantee the full protection of people living in the Greek state without discrimination on the basis of nationality, race, language, religion or political beliefs.

The "operational" section, they said, ran along hierarchical, military lines and and physically trained members to participate in attack units to intimidate opponents.

The magistrates said the four MPs were members of and directors in the crime organisation whose illegal acts - including homicide, attempted homicide, and arson attacks - they knew and lauded.

Among the acts that Golden Dawn members perpetrated, according to the two magistrates, are the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas, the murder of Pakistani worker Shehzad Luqman, the attempted homicide of members of the communist trade union Pame, and attacks against various social initiatives in Athens.

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Stathis Boukouras
Crime and law
Giorgos Germenis
Parliament
Golden Dawn