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Far-left leader stands trial in Golden Dawn lawsuit

Savvas Michael-Matsas believes he's being targetted because he's Jewish

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Background to the trial against Savvas Michael-Matsas, the general secretary of the tiny Revolutionary Workers' Party (EEK), is a slogan - 'The people don't forget, they hang fascists' - that appeared in a party announcement for an antifascist protest in May 2009

Golden Dawn members chant the national anthem in front of the parliament (File photo: AFP) Golden Dawn members chant the national anthem in front of the parliament (File photo: AFP) The leader of a small far-left party went on trial on Tuesday, charged with "libellous defamation", "incitement to violence and civil discord" and "disturbing the public peace" after Golden Dawn members and supporters brought a case against him.

The background to the trial against Savvas Michael-Matsas, the general secretary of the tiny Revolutionary Workers' Party (EEK), is a slogan - "The people don't forget, they hang fascists" - that appeared in a party announcement for an antifascist protest in May 2009.

A Trotskyist party founded in 1985, in the last elections it contested (May 2012), the EEK garnered a minuscule 6,095 votes, or about 0.10% of the total, a result dwarfed by the 440,966 votes (a 6.97% share) obtained by Golden Dawn.

A considerable number of people were named in the lawsuit, but apart from Michael-Matsas, only one other person is being brought before a court. Konstantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of the National Technical University of Athens, or Athens Polytechnic, also stands accused of allowing the radical website Athens Indymedia to use the university's server.

Moutzouris has already been cleared of such charges twice. It is not clear what prompted prosecutors to bring the cases to court.

Writing in Monday's Guardian, journalist Maria Margaronis, who describes herself as a friend of Michael-Matsas, said the "progress of the trial thus far raises questions about whether, and if so to what extent, the authorities are colluding with the neo-Nazis [of Golden Dawn]".

She said that one of the signatories to the lawsuit, former Golden Dawn election candidate Themis Skordeli, was charged with stabbing an Afghan man in September 2011. Her trial has been postponed eight times.

Margaronis also states that Michael-Matsas has been targeted by Golden Dawn – an openly antisemitic party – because he is Jewish.

Margaronis wrote: "But picking out the Jew to be the first to walk the plank is sleazy beyond belief, a cheap sop to the fascist gallery. As one of the few Jewish public intellectuals in Greece, Savvas has long been targeted by neo-Nazi websites, with slogans like 'Crush the Jewish worm' and claims that he can be found lurking under every stone, fomenting civil war among pure-blooded Greeks in order to establish a Judeo-Bolshevik state. He has also been accused of being both an agent of Iran and a fully paid-up member of the international Zionist conspiracy (in fact he's a fierce anti-Zionist)."

Michael-Matsas, a philosopher, literary critic and Biblical scholar, tends to agree: "I'm the embodiment of every fascist's fantasy. I'm a Jew, a communist – and a heretical communist, a Trotskyist, at that. I don't fit anywhere. The only thing I happen not to be is homosexual," he told Margaronis, who is also the London correspondent for the Nation.

Savvas Michael-Matsas addresses an EEK meeting (Photo: EEK) Savvas Michael-Matsas addresses an EEK meeting (Photo: EEK)

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Politics
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Golden Dawn
Savvas Michael-Matsas
Revolutionary Workers' Party (EEK)