A member of the major opposition party Coalition of the Far Left (SYRIZA) who claimed he was beaten by three men at a soccer game who identified themselves as members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is being sued by the political group for libel after he said the organizaton was a “gang of criminals.” Greek lawmakers, however, have complete immunity against all crimes.
The suit was filed on behalf of Golden Dawn by MP Ilias Panagiotaros after Dimitris Stratoulis lashed out at the far-right ultra extremist party following his assault. He said his attackers yelled at him, “We will kill you,” and beat him with their fists and feet before other spectators broke it up.
SYRIZA condemned the assault and demanded that its perpetrators be arrested and face charges. Golden Dawn denied any in the incident, stressing that at the time of the attack its members were holding a rally in Nikaia, in southeastern Athens. “Golden Dawn has nothing to do with the attack against the SYRIZA MP,” the party said in a statement. “The left-wing politicians who foment violence … should stop using the name of Golden Dawn.”
The government condemned the attack, with spokesman Simos Kedikoglou saying “any kind of attack and threat is unacceptable in our democracy. Violence has no place in our culture.”
Stratoulis, 54, was with his adult son at the time of the attack. It happened in the concourse area of the Olympic Stadium during halftime of the match between AEK Athens and Atromitos, which ended in a 1-1 draw. Stratoulis, who was bloodied but didn’t sustain serious injuries, filed a police complaint.
Golden Dawn has denied involvement in the attack. “Golden Dawn had nothing to do with the incident against Member of Parliament Stratoulis at the Olympic Stadium. The Leftist party hacks, who promote violence in demonstrations, should stop using the name of the Golden Dawn,” a party statement said.
SYRIZA officials earlier said they believed Golden Dawn was responsible. “We demand the prompt arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators,” the party said in a statement. “It is certain that tolerance towards the fascist Golden Dawn will lead to loss of life. The response must be immediate and decisive before it’s too late.”
In an unrelated incident in the central city of Volos, another SYRIZA MP Alexandros Meikopoulos said he was the victim of violence by riot police who clashed with supporters of local club Niki shortly after the local second division derby with Olympiakos Volos had ended in a 0-0 draw. Another SYRIZA member said he was attacked by riot police at a separate soccer game. Critics have said that many police officers implicitly support the neo-Nazis and their tactics and that half the police forced had voted for the party.
Riot police were attacked when they tried to keep supporters of both teams from attacking each other. The police responded with tear gas and stun grenades, and struck Niki supporters with clubs. Meikopoulos told a local radio station that he tried to mediate, but that when he showed his Greek parliament ID, he and his father were hit and pushed by police. Neither of the men was seriously injured.