Interview with Takis Zotos, lawyer, civil action representative at the Golden Dawn Trial and member of the Anti-Fascist civil action movement. Translated by Antonis Baltas for Analyze Greece. The interview was taken by Stratis Bournazos.
An important event of the last days is the publication of the indictment decree, with which Golden Dawn is presumed a Nazi criminal organisation and the 70 defendants (which include all of its Members of Parliament, from the last parliamentary season) are indicted in front of the Court of Appeals for felonies. The over 1000 pages long decree is exceptionally important, not only because of the irrevocable indictment, but because of its content and its reasoning. We talked about the decree with a person who is very familiar with the matter, Mr. Takis Zotos, a lawyer, and member of the anti-fascist civil action movement (https://jailgoldendawn.com/), who will be joining the proceedings of the upcoming trial as a civil action representative.
What are your first thoughts about the publication of the indictment decree?
With just one phrase, I would say: At last, an irrevocable indictment, against Golden Dawn, a murderous nazi group! A first win for the tens of thousands of immigrants, workers, union-members, anti-fascists, who, all these years, in every city and every neighborhood, battled for the dissolution of the “attack battalions”, the isolation and the condemnation of this dangerous and criminal group. The first battle has been won.
With this irrevocable decree ordered by the Court of Appeal judges, the leading board and all the Members of Parliament who represented the Nazi organisation (up to time of the murder of Pavlos Fyssas) are finally indicted, as well as dozens of members of the Golden Dawn attack battalions. The leadership members are indicted for directing, and the rest for participating in a criminal group who had committed murders, like the one of Sahzat Lukman, and murder attempts, like the ones against the student in Palaio Faliro and the Pakistani hairdresser in Metamorfosi, grave and dangerous body injuries and damages of property, like the one at the “Synergeio” Social Hall in Ilioupoli, arsons, multiple illegal weapon possession and use charges . They are also indicted for the murder of Pavlos Fyssas and the attempted murders of the PAME union members (which occurred September 2013), and the Egyptian fishing workers.
This particular indictment was desirable and expected, wasn’t it?
It was certainly desirable, but far from certain. Despite the overwhelmingly incriminating evidence, their irrevocable indictment was neither self-explanatory nor easy. The members of Golden Dawn were protected by “immunity” and by being covered-up by prosecuting mechanisms. And whenever victims of Nazi violence found the courage and the persistence to bring some of them to justice, the judicial handling, which was in compliance with the rest of the state mechanism and the government policy, couldn’t identify neither racial motivation, nor the consolidated Nazi criminal organisation behind the perpetrators.
Tens of thousands had to be motivated in every city and neighborhood in order to answer back to the Nazi attacks, to build anti-fascist boards, to defend the victims, to reveal the crimes of the criminal group. These are the people, who, with their massive demonstrations, forced the government to put handcuffs on Golden Dawn.
What is your comment upon the opinion of the Court of Appeals Judge who dissented?
Firstly, I would like to emphasize the fact that Golden Dawn, with the “seal” of approval of the Court of Appeal judges, is a nazi criminal group, under the disguise of a political party. Golden Dawn’s attempt to convince that it is not a criminal group failed. The judges unanimously accepted that all the crimes for which Golden Dawn members were accused of have been committed according to the way that they were described. And with this unanimous acknowledgment the leadership of Golden Dawn is deprived of any argument that it (Golden Dawn) is not a criminal group but a legal political party.
A judge expressed that a “criminal group”, according to law, and specifically article 187 of the Greek Criminal Code, must have the intention of achieving financial gains from the crimes it commits. This opinion is legally false. The wording of article 187 covers both the criminal groups that intent on financial gain from their crimes, as well as those that commit the crimes for other purposes (racist, racial, etc.). It has been put in effect since 2001 and is applied against [criminal] groups that aim at financial benefit, as well as groups who aim for other purposes (i.e. the same article was used for the trials against 17N and ELA). Until now the courts have not disputed the implementation of the provisions of Article 187 on this reasoning.
At this point I would like to note, that in September 2014 we found out from “leaks” of the conversations held during the Penal Code modification committee that a revision of article 187 was under consideration so that the article could be applied only to criminal groups who aim at financial gain. The clamor against this kind of manipulation was strong, because it was –correctly– determined that such a legal change would lead to the acquittal of Golden Dawn. The modification didn’t occur and the members of Golden Dawn remained accused. What didn’t happen then via the proposed modification of article 187, didn’t happen now either, with this interpretation of article 187, which is legally untenable, judicially and politically arduous, and far removed from the historic and social reality. We must not allow it to happen at court.
The trial will soon begin. What does it signify, and what relevant duties do the anti-fascists and the democrats have?
The trial date is expected to be set in two months time. The outcome, despite the abundance of evidence, is not certain. There was undisputable evidence before the Pavlos Fyssas murder. What hadn’t changed was the balance of power which could make the crime evidence clear and impose that the victims would be heard. This balance began to change in September 2013. The prosecution and the irrevocable indictment of the Golden Dawn members is an obvious indication.
Continuous and massive mobilisation is needed from the anti-fascist movement and everone who regards Golden Dawn as dangerous for the democratic rights and freedoms of immigrants and Greeks. The presence of all these people inside and outside the courtroom is of great importance in order to ensure that the evidence will be heard and respected, the victims will be vindicated and the murderers will go to prison.