Dimitris Psarras: The case against Golden Dawn is rock solid, but nothing is over yet

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(Interview of Dimitris Psarras by Stratis Bournazos, Enthemata, 14/09/2014. Translation made by Dimitris Ioannou for Analyze Greece).

You have repeatedly argued that there is indisputable evidence against Golden Dawn leadership. Would you like to elaborate on that?

The case against GD has been solid for years now. Contrary to the organization’s claims, the prosecution against its members and the arrests carried out were not a political decision of the government or the prime minister. The exact opposite is true. For many years, the political leadership of the ministries of Justice and Public Order, and also the Parliament itself, hid behind our Constitution’s lack of provision to ban a political party. Moreover, the judicial system avoided to investigate the organization, despite the fact that its members were systematically involved in unlawful activities, which they undertook acting not as individuals but as GD members. What changed after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, was the correlation of the famous “32 cases” already pending in the judicial system. In many of these cases, the accused were well known GD members, high ranking in the organization, while the modus operandi of the raid squads was described in great detail. After the arrests, the cases have risen to more than 100. Justice has indisputable evidence on all of the above. Mind you, only a small part of that evidence is included in the Report forwarded to the Parliament concerning the waiver of immunity of the Golden Dawn MP’s. As the Report has been made public, what we know for sure about the most glaring cases (Fyssas’ murder, the beating of the Communist trade-unionists in Pireaus, the attack on the Egyptian fishermen, the “Antipnoia” stabbings) is the organized nature of the activities and the leadership’s total control over them.

So, what were the difficulties the case presented?

As I said, the case was solid from the very beginning. There is the final decision of the Court of Appeal (validated by the Supreme Court) on the case of the former GD deputy “Periandros”, where it is stated that he acted as the head of a ten-member phalanx that moved with murderous intentions “against Dimitrios Koussouris, member of the Board of the National Students Union, to whom they focused their attack, as they considered him to be among the ringleaders of the protestations and an ‘enemy’ par excellence of their nationalist ideology”. That decision accurately describes both the way the organization acted and the motives of its murderous activities against its “enemies”. But, back then, no one investigated the rest of GD leadership. Nor did anyone crosscheck cases pending against other members of the organization in order to uncover its methods and overrule its ostensible defense according to which prosecutions were either “political schemes” (in the case of “Periandros”) or about isolated acts of “provocateurs” (in the case of Fyssas’ killer G.Roupakias). Difficulties were of a different kind. Let me remind you that the recent prosecutions were combined with the removal of high-ranking officers in the police and the intelligence service because, with them around, the arrests would not have been possible. The state apparatus was totally unprepared and unwilling to enforce the law in the case of Golden Dawn. The video in which General Secretary of the Government P. Baltakos apologized to GD spokesman I. Kassidiaris and exchanged cheap conspiracy theories with him, was absolutely indicative of the guilty inertia of the deep state which viewed GD raid squads as its own children, albeit somewhat naughty.

I would like to insist on this point because there’s this rather popular opinion that the case is “poor”, unfounded, lacking solid evidence. And I am not talking about GD or its affiliates here, this is something you hear or read quite often, even by people from the Left.

Well, it’s only logical to doubt the “antifascist” intentions of the government, so I can sympathize with those skeptical about the way the case is handled. Besides, many New Democracy officials have been ambivalent about all this, so we shouldn’t feel too at ease. Nevertheless, I find it hypocritical, to say the least, to question the facts in a case that is bursting with evidence. It should be noted here that the theory you referred to is being reproduced by media that participated in an outburst of “shocking” “revelations” (regarding GD) following the murder of Fyssas, only to turnaround a few weeks later. Their motives are easy to detect; Media considers the hundreds of thousands of GD voters as their potential customers, just like some parties consider them as their potential supporters. As for some leftists who insist on criticizing the investigation process, thereby adopting (albeit unwillingly) part of the fascists’ argumentation, I think they remain trapped in the old mechanistic view that the neo-Nazi party is the “long arm of the system”, thus failing to realize the relative autonomy of parastatal mechanisms. I am of course referring to the good-willing ones here because, at the fringes of the Left, there are some opportunists who flirt with GD supporters openly.

Do you find any problems in the way the penal procedure has gone so far?

It was certainly not easy for the state apparatus to turn into a relentless persecutor of murderous fascism overnight; and I’m saying this because, until very recently, GD was seen by the state more as a “necessary evil”, if not as a useful complement of the police mechanisms, and in any case it was used as a bogeyman for the verification of the “two extremes” theory. There’s also the excuse that you cannot expect a state mechanism that’s broken down due to the crisis to work perfectly in the case of Golden Dawn, but I believe the main problem lays inside the government because, even though P. Baltakos’ agenda got sidetracked, it never stopped subverting the investigation process. Something unusual also happened, the investigators asking the Parliament to speed up its procedures when they realized that the waiver of immunity of some Golden Dawn MP’s was suspiciously slow. And, even today, we don’t know if, when, and under which conditions, the case will be taken to court.

In view of the trial, what do you think is important for individuals and collectivities (antiracist and antifascist movements, the parties of the Left) to do?

I think what’s most important is for everyone to realize that nothing is over yet. We must remain vigilant. Lately, we are experiencing the attempt of some raid squads to reemerge; attacks have been recorded against immigrants and gay couples. Antifascist collectivities must stop the Nazis from prevailing again. Furthermore, the trial itself will become an object of controversy since there are those who would want the case buried for their own reasons. An important point that hasn’t been widely known is the intended addition, in the Penal Code, of the economic motive as a necessary precondition for the characterization of an organization as a criminal one. If this were to happen, it would lead to the acquittal of the GD’s leadership, since economic gain was not (always) their main motive, just like it wasn’t for the Italian terrorist organizations of the extreme Right in the 70’s, GD’s role models, trying to implement a Greek version of the “strategy of tension”.

Now, despite the penal prosecution, GD won 9,39% of the vote in the recent European election (from 6,92% in the June 2012 national vote). Some say that this proves the prosecution ineffective. I totally disagree, but what do you think?

I would be tempted to ask the people who express similar views about their predictions on GD’s electoral results had the state (even in today’s authoritative and antipopular guise) sent the message that neo-Nazi’s activity is tolerated and within the boundaries of the law. I think such reasoning is an example of antidemocratic thinking.

My view is completely different. Legal action against the crimes attributed to the organization should be totally independent from the political consequences of the persecution. Personally, I am be more than content with the simple fact that the number of night raids dramatically decreased after the arrests: the Racist Violence Recording Network took note of just 18 incidents for the last quarter of 2013, while before, this number was the monthly average. Conversely, I think that the political elimination of GD is an altogether different thing to its penal treatment. Alas, the ideas that fill its ranks with sympathizers are deeply rooted in some parts of Greek society –just remember the racist, anti-immigrant and homophobic comments heard in Parliament during the voting of the so-called “antiracist” act. If this cannibalistic, intolerant political current is not defeated, no electoral shrinkage can be expected for GD. Even more so because GD is a true “chameleon”, always ready to renounce even its own members in order to avoid whatever repercussions a judicial inquiry might have.

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