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Former Golden Dawn member: 'We'll enter parliament with tanks'

Witness claims party members slaughtered sheep to learn how to stab in the neck

Testimony from a fifth onetime member of Golden Dawn provides insights into how neonazi party recruited, trained, indoctrinated and disciplined its members

Neonazi Golden Dawn indoctrinates new recruits that the enemy is "Jews, Zionists and Communists" Neonazi Golden Dawn indoctrinates new recruits that the enemy is "Jews, Zionists and Communists" Golden Dawn's object is the "overthrow of the democratic system" and it intended to do this by "entering parliament with tanks", a former member of the party has claimed in sworn testimony against the neonazi party.

The man is the fifth individual to deliver evidence to investigating magistrates investigating the neonazi party. Like all of the witnesses, he has requested protection from the authorities and cannot be named.

His testimony, deposited on Saturday amid heightened security, will now be used to proceed against a number of Golden Dawn MPs not charged last week. 

The witness, who says he was active in Golden Dawn until recently, claimed that party members were put through an training programme which included, among others, slaughtering lambs "in order to learn the technique of stabbing the carotid [artery] with a knife".

This activity, he alleged, took place under the supervision of Nikos Michos, now a Golden Dawn MP for Evia, in sheep pens around Malakasa, in eastern Attica.

Arms training with shotguns also took place in a remote area in Palia Pentili, north of Athens.

He added that recruits were put through ideological training and brainwashing by being forced to buy copies of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, Josef Goebbels' diary and The Protocolls of the Elders of Zion, a notorious antisemitic forgery that claims a secret Jewish committee runs the world, to "learn who the enemy is: Jews, Zionists and the Communists".

The party's line, he said, was that "because Marx was a communist, Jews and communists are the same".

He also said that four future Golden Dawn MPs – Ilias Kasidiaris, Ilias Panagiotaros, Yiannis Lagos and Yiorgos Germenis – participated in an attack by Golden Dawn members on migrants in the old appeals court on Sokoratous street in central Athens in May 2009. The four and others fired improvised fireworks into the building, injuring those inside.

He also alleges that new recruits were encouraged to get a tattoo of the Totenkopf, the skull and crossbones motif used by the SS, and variations of the swastika.

The witness alleged further that every Saturday, members of his Golden Dawn cell met at party offices to report on the attacks on migrants, leftists, anarchists and drug addicts they had carried out that week.

The party used harsh measures to maintain discipline over members, he claimed: "Any deviation from the principles of organisation, or the wishes and orders of the leader and high-ranking members automatically resulted in harsh punishment, savage beatings and public humiliations. I was present at some of these unpleasant situations and know that in some cases, loud music was played so that we wouldn't hear the voices of those being beaten."

Summing up, the witness said he deeply regretted his involvement in the organisation.

"I'm very sorry because I did great disservice by engaging in this criminal organisation. I got carried away like many other people. Some got involved for their own benefit and out of the need that so many of us have to belong somewhere. I hope this investigation will lead to some real effects and eliminate the danger that is called Golden Dawn."

* A full transcript of the deposition (in Greek) is available here

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