The head of Greece’s extreme-right Golden Dawn party was jailed this morning in Athens, charged with running his party as a criminal organisation.
Nikos Michaloliakos and five of his party leaders were arrested on Saturday in a national crackdown that also saw 14 Golden Dawn party members and two police sympathisers targeted. Police say more arrests will follow.
Golden Dawn began in the 1980s as a Nazi-inspired nationalist group. It has gained popularity during Greece’s financial crisis and in 2012 won 18 seats in the 300-member Parliament, making it the third most popular party in Greece.
The party is charged with promoting the principles of Nazi ideology through violence against immigrants, minorities and political opponents.
This crackdown against Golden Dawn was sparked by the fatal stabbing of left-wing Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyass on September 17 by a Golden Dawn member. It is the first time that members of parliament have been arrested and jailed since Greece was restored to democracy in 1974 after a military dictatorship.
Speaking to the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in New York this week, Greece’s Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, said he would do “whatever it takes” to eradicate Golden Dawn from his parliament.
Mr Samaras said Greek citizens “will realise that they should not follow the party that has such extreme ideological positions and ideas”.
He added: “There is no room for the neo-Nazis in any party of the democratic world, and there is no tolerance for the neo-Nazis, or for any kind of extremism, undermining democratic institutions.”