The prosecutor in a landmark Greek murder trial involving neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn sparked outrage in a court on Wednesday when she called for the acquittal of the group’s leaders.
Prosecutor Adamantia Economou told the court it could not be established that Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos or more than a dozen other senior party figures had ordered the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013.
The victim’s mother, Magda Fyssas, reacted angrily when, in a statement read to the chamber, Economou said Fyssas’s fatal stabbing by an alleged Golden Dawn member, Yiorgos Roupakias, had not been premeditated.
“Have they seen nothing all this time? They are acquitting the criminals. How much more can we take?” said Magda Fyssas, referring to the near-five-year trial.
Fyssas’s murder outside a cafe in an alleged ambush by Golden Dawn supporters shocked the country and opened the way to an unprecedented investigation into the group’s operations.
But the prosecutor questioned why a premeditated murder would take place in such a public place.
“What possible gain was there in this? A murder in a central location? If Fyssas had been a target, they could have killed him somewhere out of the way,” she argued.
Cas Mudde, a professor and scholar at the University of Georgia who specialises in European far-right politics, said the development was a “farce.”
Writing on Twitter, he said: “If this goes through, it will mean complete implosion of multiyear-investigation and prosecution of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and calls into question the whole procedure and its democratic character. Arguments seems shaky.”
Michaloliakos is one of nearly 70 defendants who each face between five and 20 years in prison over the 2013 killing and other alleged crimes by Golden Dawn members.
The main charge against them is participation in a criminal organisation, but there have also been a host of other indictments related to murder and assault.
Holocaust denier and protege of Greece‘s former military government leader Georgios Papadopoulos, Michaloliakos has consistently maintained his innocence. He says the party was persecuted by the government for its popularity during the Greek economic crisis.
Based on records of phone conversations between Golden Dawn members the night Fyssas was murdered, investigating magistrates had argued the attack was carried out with the knowledge of senior party members.
They say it was part of a broader pattern of violence organised by the party against migrants and political opponents – including beatings of Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and communist trade unionists in 2013.
At the height of its popularity in 2015, Golden Dawn was Greece’s third-strongest party, winning more than 370,000 votes.
But its fortunes collapsed in July’s general election. For the first time in seven years, it failed to win a parliamentary seat.
A verdict is expected early in 2020.