After a marathon all-afternoon, all-night session that began on Oct. 1 and ended on the morning of Oct. 2 – and during which they denied charges of murder, assault, blackmail and money laundering – three of four lawmakers from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, including spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, were given conditional release by a Greek court.
Also freed until their cases are resumed were Ilias Panayiotaros and Nikos Michos, while Yiannis Lagos remained in custody. It happened only hours before the party leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos was to be brought to court to be questioned. His second-in-command, Christos Pappas, is due in court on Oct. 3.
The six MPS were the highest-ranking members of the party in a sweep led by police on Sept. 28 in the aftermath of the killing of a 34-year-old anti-fascist hip-hop artist by a man police said was connected to the extremists. Ironically, just as they were released, a war siren sounded as part of a scheduled drill.
Kasidiaris’ bail was set at 50,000 euros and he was barred from leaving the country, although it was not reported if his passport was confiscated. Panayiotaros and Michos were released without bail but also required to stay in Greece.
The court said there would be no pre-trial detention because the suspects weren’t believed to be flight risks. Although it’s not allowed, Kasidiaris kept his cell phone while in detention and was seen making calls and sending messages on Twitter.
In their depositions they argued that their arrests were unconstitutional and that all the evidence against them was fabricated, although they didn’t say by whom. The newspaper Kathimerini reported it was told by a source that Kasidiaris named a man he believed to be one of two key witnesses in the case, whose identity was supposed to have been protected by the state.
The government is moving to to prove that Golden Dawn is a criminal gang in an attempt to break it up. The suspects denied that the party had a Nazi-like chain-of-command that was followed after the killing of Pavlos Fyssas. The suspect in that case, Giorgos Roupakias, is still being held.
The government also has purged the police force, believed to have ties to the extremists, who’ve been accused of leading hundreds of assaults on immigrants, leftists, Communists and gays. A former chief of the Aghios Panteleimonas police station was arrested on Oct. 2 and was being questioned by the department regarding his ties to Golden Dawn.