(Author: Damian Mac Con Uladh, 23/09/2014)
An Athens court on Monday handed a former member of Golden Dawn’s central committee and local election candidate for the neonazi party a 11½-year prison sentence after it found him and an accomplice guilty of attempted murder and the possession and use of weapons.
The Athens mixed jury court found Vasilis Siatounis and Athanasios Stratos guilty of participating in a gang attack on the Antipnoia anarchist space in Kato Petralona on 30 June 2008, in which a Greek and a Spanish national were stabbed. Stratos received a 13½-year prison sentence for his role in the attack.
Four people were attending a Spanish language course at the centre, when a man wearing a helmet entered the room yelling “Greetings from Golden Dawn! You’re going to die, w*nkers!” He was followed by a group of 10-15 people holding knives and batons, who, following orders, set about attacking those inside, wounding two people, one of them seriously. According to the prosecutor, the room was left “covered in blood and unrecognisable” after the “cowardly invasion”.
Identifying Stratos as his assailant, one of the victims said he was hit on the head with a chair and was stabbed in the knee and buttocks. He subsequently spent 20 days in hospital and required eight blood transfusions.
The Spanish teacher, who identified Siatounis as her attacker, said the first blow of the knife cut her trousers. She still wonders what would have happened to her had the leader of the attack not issued the order “time up”.
When they took the stand, the defendants contradicted previous statements in which they admitted taking part in a Golden Dawn motorcade to distribute flyers. In that earlier testimony, they claimed never to have entered the centre and fled the scene in panic when they realised that an attack was taking place.
When a lawyer representing the victims asked to read out the defendants’ earlier statements to the court, their defence team objected, claiming that Golden Dawn lawyers had written them without their consent.
This was an attempt to disassociate Golden Dawn from the case, according to JailGoldenDawn, a lawyer’s initiative that monitors cases against members of the neonazi party.
JailGoldenDawn said that the prosecutor’s observation that the accused were not speaking freely because they feared for themselves and their families was “a direct reference to Golden Dawn’s mafia practices”, which it said are becoming more apparent at social and institutional and legal level.
After the attack, Golden Dawn denied that Siatounis and Stratos were not members of Golden Dawn, despite the claims otherwise of those engaging in “anti-Golden Dawn, antinationalist hysteria”. But according to a list of Golden Dawn central committee members from 2008 that was published in the Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper earlier this month, Siatounis was a member of the party’s highest council when the attack occurred.
He was also a candidate for the party in the 2010 Athens municipal elections and was subsequently appointed an advisor to Nikos Michaloliakos, Golden Dawn’s leader, who became a councillor in that election.
Originally classed as a misdemeanor, the criminal trial against the two men was postponed 12 times.