Member of European Parliament Ioannis Lagos, a former leader of Golden Dawn, has been able to avoid arrest after being sentenced by a Greek court for his part in leading the group, since he is currently in Brussels enjoying parliamentary immunity.
While Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos, along with four other leading members, including Ilias Kasidiaris, Giorgos Germenis, Ilias Panagiotaros and Artemis Matthaiopoulos, were formally arrested or voluntarily turned themselves in on Thursday after the court order sentencing them to 13 years in prison, Lagos is still at large.
Lagos, 48, left the neo-Nazi party in July of 2019 claiming disagreement with certain political moves of the party. He is currently an independent member of the European Parliament.
The Greek MEP has already been penalized by President of the European Parliament David Sassoli after tearing up the Turkish flag in the House during a speech on illegal migration in January.
In order for Lagos to be arrested in Brussels, the European Parliament must waive his parliamentary immunity. The Greek authorities must request the waiver of his immunity and issue a warrant for his arrest.
Waiver of Lagos’ immunity might take two months
The Greek Supreme Court Prosecutor’s Office must first send a request to the Justice Committee of the European Parliament, which must convene and send the matter to the plenary. However, since the committee is bound by the principle of confidentiality, which is not easy to secure through video conferencing (due to the coronavirus), it is likely that there will be a delay in the decision.
When the members of the committee convene, they will refer the matter to a plenary meeting, which is held once a month. It is estimated that this is not going to take place before the December meeting.
Lagos’ salary has already been reduced substantially since the flag-ripping incident. The MEP receives only his salary of 6,000 euros a month and none of the other compensations. According to European Parliament regulations, he will continue to receive the MEP salary, without compensations, even during his prison stay, until the Supreme Court decision is finalized.
Political career amidst accusations of criminal activities
Lagos served as a member of the Greek Parliament from 2012 until 2019, elected on the Golden Dawn ticket. In July of 2019 he was elected to the European Parliament, only days after he announced that he would sit as an Independent.
The nationalist politician was arrested and detained twice on charges of forming a criminal organization. In the past he has been charged with extortion, pandering, protection racket practices, illegal possession of firearms and other felonies.
Lagos was also charged as an abettor in the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September of 2013, which led to his conviction, along with the rest of the Golden Dawn leaders, on October 7 of this year. He was then sentenced to thirteen years in prison.