(This is a text first published on 24 October 2013. You can find the greek version here).
The arrest and prosecution of the leaders of neonazi Golden Dawn for founding a criminal organisation is a vindication of all those who actively opposed the fascist threat for the last 20 years and especially in the last three years.
The Samaras–Venizelos government and the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, are now trying to appear as “defenders of democracy” and to rebaptise themselves in the font of the “constitutional arc”.
The undersigned lawyers, who as participants of the antifascist and antiracist movement have pursued Golden Dawn, wish not only to underline the hypocrisy of the current government after so many years of concealing neonazi activity, but to call on the investigation to get to the root of Golden Dawn.
It is our belief that Golden Dawn is a criminal organisation which has consciously donned the cloak of a political party, utilising the freedom guaranteed by the law on political parties in order to proceed with its criminal activity. We are not dealing with two separate entities or questions: the freedom of the political component to function and, simultaneously, the dismantling of the criminal/operational side. Such a differentiation may exist in other far-right entities in Europe, but does not apply in the Golden Dawn case.
To be more precise: Golden Dawn is not a political party which has criminal “attack squads”. Golden Dawn is in itself a criminal “attack squad” that masquerades as a political party.
The attempts of the justice system to dismantle this criminal gang will be confronted by those mechanisms which for years nurtured, protected and concealed Golden Dawn’s activities. The report by Supreme Court deputy prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis reveals this aspect. But our opinion is that the judicial investigation should be spread to areas not currently covered by the findings of the prosecutors.
These are the steps that need to be taken:
1. Homicide: The Vourliotis report refers to two murders and three attempted murders. These murders are of Shehzad Luqman in January 2013 in Petralona, Athens; Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013 in Keratsini, Piraeus, and the cases of murderous attacks on Egyptian fishermen and Pakistani migrants at Metamorfosi, Athens. We believe that this organisation has committed more homicides than this, which have been systematically covered up by the authorities, mainly the police.
We believe that the following cases should immediately reopen: the Moroccan murdered on Anaxagoras and Geraniou streets on 11 August 2012, the Bangladeshi Alim Abdul Manan, murdered in Kato Patisia on 12 May 2011, and the Egyptian, Mohammad Salam, murdered in Glyka Nera at Easter 2012. These cases are only indicative of many more.
2. Relationships with businesspeople: The murder of Pavlos Fyssas must be considered as a case inextricably linked with the assault of a Golden Dawn attack squad on members of the Communist Party a week earlier in Perama. The attack squads received the order to terrorise the neighbourhoods of Piraeus from the leadership of the organisation against workers’ unions and antifascist youth. We strongly believe that the timing had to do with the sociopolitical context and Golden Dawn’s effort to gain a foothold in the shipyards and create a pro-employer’s union under the control, of course, of Golden Dawn. Indeed, leading Golden Dawn MPs Yiannis Lagos and Ilias Panagiotaros had visited the shipyard shortly before. Since the employers in the shipyard were very persistent in creating this yellow union, it would be wise, as part of the investigation, to include employers and employer organisations as well as media owners (Alafouzos Group) who attacked the existing workers’ union and reinforced Golden Dawn in several ways. Moreover, the investigation should include past and present shipping ministers who were involved in the case (for example, deputy shipping minister Adonis Georgiadis played a leading role in attacking the existing workers’ union). This is the only way to reveal the source of Golden Dawn’s funding and its actions. It is very important to examine the relationship between Golden Dawn and elements involved in supplying arms, especially considering the public accusations of journalist Kostas Vaxevanis against publisher, shipowner and “weapons museum” owner Anastasios Pallis. Considering a certain loan from a banking institution was utilized to secure state funding, we believe the disclosure of the name of the bank will elucidate the actions of the organization.
3. The police: The Vourliotis report refers explicitly to the relations between Golden Dawn and the police, and arrests have taken place. We are aware of the relationship of the police station in Nikea, Piraeus, with the organisation, and according to the Movement United Against Racism and the Fascist Threat (Keerfa), in this police department a Pakistani man, Mohammad Kamran Atif, was tortured using electro-shock in September 2009 and subsequently died. We are also amazed at the lack of any investigation of the police station at Agios Panteleimonas. We can confirm from personal experience that police at this station would not accept written complaints from migrants describing attacks by fascists. Indeed, the presence of a lawyer caused the instant gathering of the so-called “indignant citizens” group, which was created by Golden Dawn activists Skordeli, Giannatos and Pipikiou and others. They had obviously been tipped off by the police. They gathered outside the police department in order to terrorise and abuse the lawyer and the migrants. Another example of the cooperation between the Agios Panteleimonas police station and the Golden Dawn attack squads is the testimony of Nikos Papavasiliou, a Golden Dawn member arrested for an arson attack on a bar owned by a Cameroon national. He testified that Golden Dawn organized systematic “patrols”, which acted unhindered in the area. Members of the same attack squad (Skordeli, Loukianos and Markoulakis) stabbed an Afghan citizen who lived in the area with a screwdriver in the chest, causing him severe injuries. We have observed similar cases of cooperation between police and racists in many police stations. Very indicative is the case of Nazim Mahmoud, who was attacked by a gang on motorcycles at his house in Peristeri, Athens. When he called the police for help, he was arrested and was prosecuted for weapons use and resisting authority. The lawsuit he submitted has not been forwarded from the police to the prosecutor.
4. National Intelligence Service (EYP): Although the EYP were aware of the activities of the members of the Golden Dawn criminal organisation, such as the involvement of MP Yiannis Lagos in human trafficking etc, the files were archived and never used. We believe that we are very close to revealing the connections between EYP members and Golden Dawn. The director of EYP’s third counter-intelligence division, who was in charge of “investigating” Golden Dawn’s activities, resigned his position as the case against the party unfolded. He was also involved in the 2005 scandal in which Pakistanis were abducted and then he concealed the fact. He was appointed to head of this EYP division by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, even though it was no secret that he was a relative of a Golden Dawn MP.
5. Nightclub scene: Already there have been investigations concerning Golden Dawn MPs “selling protection” and funding the organisation with income coming from “protection” rackets. The Supreme Court (judgement 565/2009) described the illegal actions of Christos Rigas, an active member of the organisation in the Agios Paneleimonas district and a parliamentary candidate for the party in western Greece, as a bouncer who “sold” security with links to Agios Panteleimon police station. Rigas was acquitted by a criminal court for the homicide of two people at Halandri, but we believe that the case must be re-examined within the scope of the current investigation into the party’s criminal activity.
6. Judicial power: Golden Dawn’s impunity derived not only from the police but also from the judiciary. Cases such as the appeal courts judge Marianthi Pagouteli (known as the judge blogger who posted racist comments online under the pseudonym Mariana On Ice) must be investigated for possible involvement in Golden Dawn’s organisational strategies. Pagouteli’s internet comments were followed by posts from other members of the judiciary, which were similar in character, so her case is certainly not unique.
7. Protection from the political establishment: It’s obvious that neonazi activity would not be as developed and widespread as it is were it not for the discreet political protection of political parties and ministers. Two former Golden Dawn officials, Haris Kousoumbris and Dimitris Zafiropoulos, have confessed that New Democracy [the conservative party now led by Antonis Samaras] printed Golden Dawn’s election brochures, which is a fact that should be examined. The investigation should also include former ministers for justice and public order Michalis Chrysochoidis, Christos Papoutsis (who declared that he was in touch with Golden Dawn members in Agios Panteleimonas), Lefteris Oikonomou and Nikos Dendias, on suspicion of political and penal responsibility, breach of duty, and infringing the law of ministerial liability.
Obviously we don’t believe that the elimination of this criminal organisation and confronting the fascist threat can be achieved by judicial investigation. We don’t have any faith in the institutions, so we were not surprised by the release of Golden Dawn MPs Kasidiaris, Mihos, Panagiotaros, when at the same time, thousands of migrants are detained in jail and concentration camps without committing any crime. Fascism will be confronted and dismantled by the massive antifascist movement of the great majority that detests the neonazis.
We declare that we are committed to using the judicial prosecution to reveal Golden Dawn’s activities and to identify those involved in politics and government who are protecting Golden Dawn. We will publish the results of our research in close cooperation with antifascist and antiracist movements like Keerfa. The antifascist movement will be the civil action at the trial of the neonazis. And it will secure Golden Dawn’s definitive conviction.
- Takis Zotos, lawyer in the Shehzad Luqman case.
- Evgenia Kouniaki, lawyer in the case against Skordeli, Loukianou and Markoulaki.
- Thanasis Kampagiannis, lawyer in the Shehzad Luqman case.
(If you want to help the Civil Action of the antifascist movement in prosecuting Golden Dawn, have a look here).