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Greek neo-Nazi MPs face court charges

Four Golden Dawn members of parliament appear in court to face charges of participating in a criminal organisation.

Last Modified: 01 Oct 2013 17:25
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Four members of parliament from the Greek far-right Golden Dawn party have appeared in court to face charges of belonging to a criminal organisation.

Flanked by hooded anti-terrorism police, Ilias Panagiotaros raised his handcuffed fists in the air and proclaimed his innocence as he entered the court on Tuesday, shouting: "This fairy tale has no end!"

Panagiotaros, Ilias Kasidiaris, Nikos Michos and Yannis Lagos were arrested on Saturday alongside party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and dozens of other Golden Dawn members.

The crackdown on Greece's third most popular party, launched after the killing of a Greek pop singer by a party member on September 17, is the biggest threat to Golden Dawn since it entered parliament last year.

Golden Dawn rose from a fringe group to become Greece's third most popular party in recent years, riding on a wave of anger over the country's deep financial crisis.

It won nearly seven percent of the vote and gained 18 seats in the country's 300-member parliament in elections last year. 

Party members and MPs have frequently been accused in the past of being behind numerous violent attacks, mostly against migrants. The party has strongly denied involvement in the killing of the pop singer in September, and alleged links to violent attacks on immigrants.

Police have so far found unlicensed weapons, Nazi flags and portraits of Adolf Hitler during searches of the homes of arrested party members.

Party chief Mihaloliakos, is due to appear in court for his deposition on Wednesday, while a sixth MP will face court the day after.

The court magistrate is yet to decide on if the suspects will be kept in detention pending trial.

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