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Leaders of Greece’s Golden Dawn Sentenced to Prison

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ATHENS — An Athens court docket sentenced the management of Greece’s Golden Dawn get together to 13 years in jail on Wednesday, every week after declaring the neo-fascist get together a prison group in a landmark verdict that wrapped up one of the crucial essential political trials within the nation’s fashionable historical past.

Last week, the court docket convicted the get together leaders of crimes associated to a marketing campaign of assaults in opposition to migrants and leftist critics in 2012 and 2013. At the top of a trial that lasted greater than 5 years, the get together was tied to a string of assaults, together with the deadly stabbing in 2013 of a left-wing rapper, Pavlos Fyssas.

Giorgos Roupakias, a celebration member convicted of murdering Mr. Fyssas, acquired the harshest sentence, life plus 10 years. The court docket may nonetheless droop a few of the sentences.

The convictions had been broadly seen in Greece as a last blow to Golden Dawn, which did not re-enter Parliament on the whole elections final yr because the trial step by step eroded its recognition, although the sentences fell wanting what some observers and opponents had been anticipating.

The sentences “do not seem to me as appropriately severe as one might have expected,” stated Seraphim Seferiades, an affiliate professor of politics and historical past at Panteion University in Athens. He additionally famous that selections on suspending a few of the suspensions had been nonetheless to come back.

Many of the group’s opponents jubilantly posted on Twitter beneath a hashtag in Greece that interprets to “jail the nazis” — and #jail_golden_dawn, in English, was trending, too — however there was additionally disappointment that the court docket didn’t impose the utmost of 15 years in jail for main a prison group.

In all, the court docket convicted 50 folks of membership in a prison group — 18 of them former politicians for Golden Dawn together with its chief, Nikos Michaloliakos.

In addition to Mr. Roupakias’s conviction, 5 different get together supporters or members had been discovered responsible of the tried murders of three Egyptian fishermen in 2012. Four others had been convicted of inflicting bodily hurt in assaults on members of Greece’s Communist Party commerce union in 2013.

Mr. Michaloliakos and 5 different former members of Parliament for Golden Dawn had been all sentenced to 13 years in jail. One different former lawmaker who was among the many get together leaders was sentenced to 10 years in jail. The group’s remaining 11 former lawmakers to be sentenced acquired jail phrases of 5 to seven years.

Before the sentences, protection attorneys had urged the court docket to contemplate mitigating circumstances, citing good character, lawful conduct and, in some circumstances, their shoppers’ marriages to international ladies.

The get together’s management was arrested in September 2013, a number of days after the killing of Mr. Fyssas — the primary time a pacesetter of a Greek political get together and its members of Parliament had been arrested because the fall of the nation’s army dictatorship in 1974.

Some of them already served the authorized most of 18 months in pretrial custody and had been then launched — time that is because of be deducted from their sentences.

After the sentences had been introduced, the court docket was to deliberate on whether or not to droop any of them, a choice that won’t come till Thursday. If the court docket deems any of these convicted to not be a flight threat, it would permit their sentences to be suspended pending the end result of their appeals. The arrests of those that had been convicted will likely be ordered, if essential, after the court docket makes its announcement on whether or not to droop the sentences.

Golden Dawn’s fall was as spectacular as its rise. It was catapulted from obscurity into the entrance line of Greek politics on the peak of the nation’s monetary disaster in 2012-2013 by tapping into public discontent over austerity measures and a rising inflow of migrants.

Mr. Seferiades stated a failure by successive governments to alleviate the affect of years of austerity, and by the European Union to discover a humane answer to the migration drawback, had helped “normalize racist discourse.”

“Everybody knew about Golden Dawn since the ’80s, but there was no political response,” he stated, including that the 2013 crackdown was a response to a public outcry over the dying of Mr. Fyssas, the rapper. The authorities “finally reacted because they ran the risk of a social uprising which they could not have handled.”

In spite of Golden Dawn’s dramatic decline, neo-Nazism in Greece has not disappeared. Former members of Parliament, together with Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn’s onetime spokesman, have fashioned events that embrace comparable views.

Less excessive right-wing events have additionally sprung up, together with the nationalist Greek Solution.

In a submit on Twitter final week, Mr. Michaloliakos, the get together’s chief, stated Greeks would keep in mind Golden Dawn “when illegal immigrants are the majority in Greece, when they concede earth and water to Turkey, when millions of Greeks are unemployed on the streets.”

He was referring to arrivals of migrants from Turkey and a current political disaster between the 2 neighbors over longstanding territorial disagreements and corresponding power rights.

Mr. Michaloliakos insisted that the get together was the sufferer of a witch hunt.

In the instant political fallout from the convictions, former Justice Minister Stavros Kontonis resigned final week from the central political committee of the primary leftist opposition get together, Syriza and was subsequently ejected from the get together. In addition to infighting inside the get together, he cited considerations {that a} prison code launched final yr by the earlier leftist administration may result in lighter sentences for Golden Dawn.

Among different issues, the code would deal with the chief of a prison group the identical as every other member, he stated.

The governing conservative New Democracy get together responded that Mr. Kontonis’ feedback “exposed Mr. Tsipras’ blatant cynicism and profound hypocrisy,” referring to the chief of Syriza, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

“He stood outside the appeals court demanding the conviction of Golden Dawn’s officials,” the get together stated, “when, as prime minister, he had ensured a ‘softer fall’ for them.”

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