The spokesman for the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, has been acquitted of charges he was involved in the beating and stabbing of a student in 2007 at the Athens Polytechnic school, although a witness testified the assailants were driven away in the suspect’s car that a rental agency said was rented in his name. An Athens court, however, found there was reasonable doubt in the case.
The verdict led to cheers and chants from his supporters outside the courtroom. Kasidiaris is also a Member of Parliament for the extremist group that has been accused of leading assaults on immigrants and Parliament took the extraordinary step of removing his immunity to allow him to be tried.
As he left, Kasidiaris taunted journalists, saying they had reported false charges against him. “I said from the first moment that I was innocent. Today the justice system also said that I’m innocent. I rub this court ruling on your face,” said Kasidiaris, calling media outlets “porn channels”.
The party, whose members have been seen giving Nazi-style salutes and whose emblem resembles a swastika, has said it wants to rid Greece of all foreigners including what it calls the “stench” of immigrants.Rights groups have accused its supporters of carrying out a wave of violent attacks on immigrants, a charge dismissed by the party.
Parliament will discuss next week whether to lift the immunity from prosecution granted to Kasidiaris as an MP for a second time to let prosecutors look into an assault against a female politician during last year’s election campaign. In this case, it happened on live television with Kasidiaris throwing water into the face of a Leftist female MP and then slapping a female Communist MP before running away to hide for several days until his arrest warrant could expire.
Despite that, he was allowed to take a seat in Parliament. His trials come as a prosecutor has ordered an investigation into video footage in a documentary aired by Britain’s Channel 4 television channel showing a purported Golden Dawn candidate saying immigrants would be turned into “soap,” recalling the Nazi extermination of Jews during the Holocaust.
The Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said the comments showed a desire “to revive industrialized methods of extermination.’ The party has an openly nationalistic, ultra-religious, anti-gay, anti-Semitic stance.