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Greek Golden Dawn Leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and MPs Arrested [update]

xrysiavgi_533_355Greek police have arrested Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party that is under fire in the killing of an anti-fascist for which one of its members was charged, was arrested on the morning of Sept. 28 along with his party spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, in a roundup of party members and leaders, authorities said.
“The Secretary General and one lawmaker of the Golden Dawn Party were arrested a short while ago after arrest warrants were issued,” police said in a statement. It was reported that more than 30 arrest warrants had been issued and police were scouring the country looking for other suspects.
Kasidiaris, charged with another crime, has had his immunity from prosecution for all crimes stripped by the Parliament but Michaloliakos still enjoys that protection unless the body also moves to remove it from him and other Golden Dawn MP’s said to be suspects.
Police, who had been criticized for having ties to the party, moved swiftly to round up what authorities said was a ring of people tied to the Fyssas killing. That came after prosecutors and investigators were frantically gathering evidence, including through the use of wiretaps authorized by the courts and as the suspects were said to have been openly boasting about their activities.
Supreme Court prosecutor Haralambos Vourliotis, who is overseeing the probe, tied phone records to other evidence that has been gathered to substantiate claims that MPs were involved in criminal activity, sources told the newspaper Kathimerini, which reported there is also evidence, including testimony from former party members, to suggest that the party operated with a clear chain of command, which would help prosecutors prove that it was an organized criminal gang. This would mean anyone convicted of being part of its illegal activity would face stiffer sentences.
“It is our common belief that the process needs to be speeded up so we have results quickly and this serious case does not drag on,” said Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou.
Besides Michaloliakos and Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn deputy Ilias Panayiotaros gave himself up at police headquarters, telling police they were looking for him at a wrong address. Another lawmaker from the party, Yannis Lagos, was also arrested.
“The arrest of Michaloliakos is unacceptable. The people know what is happening and they will support Golden Dawn,” Panagiotaros said outside the police headquarters.
“Democracy is protected by institutions… The justice system has the means to defend these (institutions,)” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told SKAI TV.
Dimitris Papadimoulis, parliamentary spokesman for leftist SYRIZA opposition, said that the country’s legal arsenal is enough to crack down on any criminal acts committed by members of Golden Dawn. “It is crucial to substantiate these charges,” he told SKAI.
After moving to fire the heads of five elite police units who failed to act in the wake of the murder and investigating whether there are military officers training Golden Dawn units, the head of the counter-espionage section at the National Intelligence Service (EYP), Dimos Kouzilos, was replaced. Unconfirmed reports said that someone close to the official, possibly a relative, had links to Golden Dawn.

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