Greece jails far-right Golden Dawn party leader before trial

The leader of Greece’s far-right neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, known for its anti-immigration views, was imprisoned pending trial on charges of belonging to a criminal group.

The decision was made after Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos responded to charges of leading and participating in a “criminal organization,” Reuters quoted a court official as saying. Mihaloliakos denied all the charges.

Greek police arrested the leader, several MPs, and dozens of members of the far-right Golden Dawn party on Saturday.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has been cracking down on the party since the September 18 murder of 34-year-old anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death in Keratsini by avowed Golden Dawn supporter George Roupakias.

Roupakias confessed to the killing when detained by police, and volunteered that he had links to Golden Dawn. The party, however, denied any links to the murderer and the killing.

The murder of the anti-fascist activist sparked mass protests nationwide, with many holding street protests to express their anger.

Police have detained about 30 members of the ultra-right party, which won 18 seats in the Greek parliament in the June 2012 elections after receiving close to seven percent of the popular vote.

Monday’s court testimony revealed that members of the party have allegedly committed dozens of criminal acts, including voluntary and attempted homicides and violent street raids.

“I took part several times in activities involving 50 or 60 motorbikes, with two people on each,” an ex-member said in a testimony on Monday. “The one who was sitting behind held a stick with the Greek flag and hit all the Pakistanis he could see.” 

Golden Dawn members organized “assault militias,” in which dozens of members would ride the streets on motorbikes, hitting immigrants with sticks, according to a magistrate's report by the deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Charalambos Vourliotis.

The party has expressed open hostility toward left-wing opponents and immigrants in Greece, championing slogans such as “Clean up the stench,” and “Greece for the Greeks.” They have pledged to eject all immigrants from Greece and secure the country’s borders with landmines and armed patrols. The party has also opposed austerity measures introduced in exchange for bailout credits from the EU, IMF, and European Central Bank – otherwise known as the “Troika.”