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Greek parliament suspends Golden Dawn funding

New law would strip far-right party of $1.2m if members currently on trial are convicted.

Last Modified: 23 Oct 2013 10:17
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Greek authorities prepared to hit the far-right Golden Dawn party with fresh indictments, hours after its state  funding was suspended by parliament in a move linked to the murder of an anti-fascist musician last month.

It comes as the latest efforts by the government on Wednesday to clamp down on a party it has branded a "neo-Nazi criminal gang".

Magistrates were expected to press criminal charges against three Golden Dawn lawmakers whose immunity from prosecution was lifted last week, a justice source said.

The provision passed by 235 votes in the 300-seat parliament suspends state funding to political parties if their leaders, or a tenth of its MPs, are charged with involvement in a "criminal organisation" or "acts of terrorism".

The move could deprive Golden Dawn of up to $1.2 million next year.

Golden Dawn had steadily risen on the back of an anti-austerity and anti-immigrant agenda to become Greece's third-most popular party, until the killing of a left-wing rapper by a party supporter last month triggered the government crackdown.

After entering parliament last year and appearing virtually immune to frequent accusations of violence against immigrants and leftists, the party has been on the defensive since the fatal stabbing of 34-year-old Pavlos Fissas.

The killing prompted prosecutors to investigate party MPs over a series of allegations.

The prime minister, Antonis Samaras, to probe the police force, has vowed to wipe out the party and described it as a "gang of neo-Nazis" that threatens democracy.

Golden Dawn's leader, Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, and two senior MPs have been put behind bars pending trial on charges of participation in a criminal group.

This is the first time that elected politicians have been jailed in Greece since a military coup in 1967. Three other Golden Dawn politicians have been freed pending trial.

They were ordered to stay in the country. Parliament has stripped four more MPs of their immunity to allow a deeper investigation into accusations against them.

If convicted, the politicians face a prison sentence of up to 10 years. If they are acquitted, the party will receive the state funds it is owed.

Golden Dawn, with a red-and-black swastika-like emblem, has tapped into Greeks' anger at the political class and won support with promises like ridding Greece of immigrants and sealing its borders with landmines.

But since Fissas's killing, the party's support has fallen by about a third.

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