Greek police are under fire on Friday for failing to arrest a leading Golden Dawn figure who disappeared after a court sentenced him to 13 years in prison.
Police say that the whereabouts of Christos Pappas, believed to have been the second-in-command of the criminal organization, are not known.
Officers unsuccessfully raided houses in Athens and Ioannina in northwestern Greece in search of Pappas after an Athens court rejected a prosecutor’s call for the leadership of Golden Dawn, and dozens of its members, to have their prison sentences suspended.
On Thursday, Pappas’ lawyer Pericles Stavrianakis said his client had “made a conscious decision” to not turn himself in to the authorities.
His disappearance is a major embarrassment for the Greek police, who in recent days had been adamant that all necessary measures for the arrest of the convicts were already in place.
Pappas, who is considered to be an unrepentant neo-Nazi, was one of the founding members of Golden Dawn.
By late Thursday some of the party’s prominent former MPs had been taken into custody.
Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos was led out of his home by police officers shortly after telling Greek television that he was proud to be jailed for his ideas.
Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris handed himself over to police, as did Giorgos Germenis, Panagiotis Iliopoulos and others.