After a long and highly publicized legal process, the court will now decide whether the party’s leadership is responsible for the beatings and murders that party members are said to have committed. At the same time, large demonstrations are expected.
It was the notorious murder of the anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 that became the starting shot for the investigation against Golden Dawn. Fyssas was surrounded late one night in Athens and stabbed to death – a murder that received much attention and led to widespread protests.
A member of Gyllene dawn has admitted the murder, but the big question that the court will have to decide today is whether a kind of mafia clause in Greek law can be applied; can the leadership, through the strict hierarchy that is considered to have prevailed within the party, also be held accountable? The leader Nikos Michaloliakos has admitted political responsibility for the murder, but, like other party leaders, denies any wrongdoing.
Judgments also fall in two other cases where members of the Golden Dawn are accused of attacking migrants and union members.
If the party leaders are convicted, they risk 15 years in prison, and Pavlos Fyssa’s suspected killer risks life.
The trial that was thought to be over in 18 months has now been going on for five years, and in Athens tensions are rising. The rapper Fyssas has almost become a martyr for the Greek left, and today thousands of people are expected to manifest outside the court. If there are acquittals, there is a risk that violence will break out.
Golden Dawn, which openly uses neo-Nazi rhetoric and symbolism, entered the Greek parliament during the worst crisis years of 2012, when it received seven percent of the vote. Since then, the party has crackled, not least due to internal strife, and in the 2019 election, it fell out of the Greek parliament.