The spokesman and a Member of Parliament for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, Ilias Kasidiaris, whipped up controversy while addressing the body after he suggested that he – like his party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos - is a Holocaust denier.
During a debate about the parliamentary committee which is probing the political handling of the so-called Lagarde List of possible tax cheats, Kasidiaris said that Sabby Mionis, a Greek-born businessman who lives in Tel Aviv, refused to appear before the panel protesting over the fact that it includes Holocaust deniers.
“Members of the committee are, of course, Holocaust deniers,” Kasidiaris, a member of the panel, said, Greek media reported. That set off angry retorts from other parliament members, particularly Vasilis Economou of the Democratic Left (DIMAR) which, along with the PASOK Socialists, is a partner in the coalition government of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, the New Democracy Conservative leader.
The government is stuck over how to proceed with an anti-racism bill that makes Holocaust denial a crime and includes other measures increasing penalties for assaults against immigrants. Samaras has withdrawn his support after initially backing the measure, leaving DIMAR and PASOK to forward it on their own, although there are competing versions being put forth by the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party and the Independent Greeks.
Golden Dawn, which currently polls at third place with about 13 percent of the vote, this week submitted its own draft bill to fight “racism against Greeks,” but with only 18 seats in the 300-member Parliament and sitting almost as pariahs are unlikely to get support.
“History has not yet given its final verdict on Hitler,” Kasidiaris said during a televised interview last year. Michaloliakos said the Holocaust didn’t happen.
Kasidiaris’ remarks came as he was talking about the investigation on charges against former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou and the panel giving Sabby Mioni, one of the people listed on the Lagarde List of 2,062 Greeks with $1.95 billion in the Geneva branch of HSBC, the option to send an affidavit from Tel Aviv Israel, where he resides, rather than appear in person.
The Golden Dawn MP stated that Mr. Mioni is “a personal admirer of Antonis Samaras and a buddy of Stavros Papastavros, which is why New Democracy is so concerned about him. He will not appear before this committee because Holocaust deniers participate.”
He then added that “of course Holocaust deniers participate. We do not want to go to the murderous state of Zionists. When this man sets foot in our country he will be lead to Justice”.
Oikonomou took the stand and informed the present Deputy Minister of Interior Christos Athanasiou that the penalty in Germany for denying the Holocaust is five years imprisonment.
Amidst reactions from Golden Dawn MPs, Oikonomou explained that “a Holocaust denier took the stand over here. Are there criminal charges for such behavior? When DIMAR spoke of the necessity of the anti-racism law reality comes by and demonstrates how necessary it is.”
Athanasiou said New Democracy’s proposal includes legal provisions for trivializing and denying genocides, the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes. Golden Dawn has given no explanation about eyewitness accounts of concentration camps, confessions, films, or the findings of war crimes courts after WWII which included mountains of evidence from the Nazis directing the extermination of Jews, gypsies, gays and other groups.