Three more Golden Dawn MPs behind bars

Third of neonazi party's 18 deputies now in pretrial custody

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Facing charges of involvement in a criminal organisation, Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and Stathis Boukouras to join the party's leader, deputy and another MP in Korydallos prison

A Golden Dawn supporter shouts slogans outside an Athens courthouse on January 11 (Photo: AFP) A Golden Dawn supporter shouts slogans outside an Athens courthouse on January 11 (Photo: AFP) A third of Golden Dawn's MPs are now in pretrial custody after three more deputies from the party who are facing charges of involvement in a criminal organisation were jailed on remand over the weekend, after testifying separately before investigating magistrates involved in the case.

The decision to jail Giorgos Germenis (elected in the Greater Athens consituency) and Panagiotis Iliopoulos (Magnisia) on Saturday and Stathis Boukouras (Korinthia) the following day now brings to six the number of deputies from the neonazi party being held in pretrial detention.

The three deputies had requested and received an extension to testify after parliament decided to lift their parliamentary immunity.

They are expected to be taken to Korydallos prison in Piraeus on Monday, where Golden Dawn's leader Nikos Michaloliakos, deputy leader Christos Pappas and a third MP, Yiannis Lagos, have been held since last October.

The murder of antifascist hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas in September by a Golden Dawn supporter sparked the crackdown against the party.

Boukouras' lawyer warned that "Greece is heading to a democratic breakdown".

"I have never seen politics through justice. I hope this is not the case because that would threaten democracy. When justice collapses, everything collapses," Alexis Kougias said.

A further three Golden Dawn MPs, including party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, have been charged too in connection with the investigation but are not in custody.

Tensions were running high outside the magistrate's office on Sunday.

Journalists asked Kasidiaris to denounce Golden Dawn supporters throwing of bottles of water and shouting of threats against them, on Saturday night, after they heard the decision regarding the two first MPs.

A crowd of about 30 people, encouraged by a party MP, chanted "Fools, snitches, journalists" to waiting cameras. 

Kasidiaris refused to do this, so journalists refrained from reporting his comments.

On Friday, at an Athens press conference attended by British far-right leader Nick Griffin, Golden Dawn announced its intention to challenge the government's crackdown in the European Court of Human Rights and branded the procedures leading to the pre-trial detention of Michaloliakos and other MPs as "illegal and unconstitutional".

New Democracy 'support'

Meanwhile, the local press in Corinth has reported that six New Democracy figures spoke in defence of Boukouras at his hearing.

They were Annivas Papakyrikos, mayor of Velos-Vochas; Vasilis Nanopoulos, president of Corinth chamber of commerce who hopes to be New Democracy's candidate for mayor in the next local election; Yiannis Gezerlis, also in the race to be ND's candidate for mayor in Corinth; Yiorgos Yiorgoulis, chairman of the agricultural co-op in Nemea; Yiannis Vafiadis, ND spokesman in Corinthia; and Sokratis Togias, also in the running to be ND's candidate in the next local election.

In a statement, one of those who testified, Vasilis Nanopoulos, said he neither spoke in defence or against Boukouras

"I accepted a call from the special investigating judge to testify in the case of Mr Boukouras. I went to the Areois Papos (Supreme Court) and testified under oath whatever I know about the issue.

I neither testified for or against; just the facts I know."

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Nikos Michaloliakos
Crime and law
Panayiotis Iliopoulos
Stathis Boukouras
Pavlos Fyssas
Giorgos Germenis
Golden Dawn