Greek law dictates suspects can be held for 18 months while investigation underway
Prosecutors said Tuesday that the jailed leader of Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and his deputy may have to be freed after 18 months in custody.
Golden Dawn leader Nikos Mihaloliakos and MP Christos Pappas have been held since September 2013 on accusations of being part of “a criminal gang,” after an anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas was stabbed by a party member in a murder that shocked the country.
Under Greek law, suspects can be detained for a maximum of 18 months while prosecutors investigate their case. That period runs out for the two men at the end of March. It is up to appeals court judges whether to formally free them, and prosecutors have asked for the pair to released on bail of 120,000 euros each, according to a court source. The men, both MPs, were also accused of involvement in attempted murder, racist violence, anti-Semitism acts and of having illegal weapons.
Prosecutors are likely to ask that another Golden Dawn legislator, Yannis Lagos, who was charged with implication in the Fyssas murder, similarly befreed on bail when his 18 months are up around the same time.
Golden Dawn is suspected of involvement in numerous attacks in recent years, mostly against immigrants, as Greece descended into crisis. But the impunity it appeared to enjoy ended with the murder of the activist rapper. A huge police investigation into the party began with the round-up of many of its leaders and MPs, more than half of whom have since been charged. Seventy people are facing trial as a result of the crackdown, with the first cases due to be heard before the end of April, the court source said.
The far-right party first entered parliament with 18 MPs after 2012 elections. Despite the investigations and arrests of its leaders, however, support for Golden Dawn remained considerable in the latest elections January 25, when it came third with 17 seats.