Dozens of Greeks linked to the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party will go on trial on Monday with charges of participating in a criminal organization.
The highly publicized trial will be held inside a high security prison in Athens and is expected to last for months. Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and 68 others will stand in front of a three-judge panel.
Among the 69 defendants are the vast majority of the party’s MPs, party members and police officers. They will claim that their prosecution, arrest and detention are politically biased. Golden Dawn came third in Greece’s January 25 elections, gathering 6.28% of the total vote, and secured 17 seats in the Greek Parliament.
Most of the accused face charges of membership in a criminal organization, while others are accused of murder, conspiracy to murder, possession of weapons and racist violence, facing sentences of up to 20 years, if convicted.
The investigation lasted 15 months and the state prosecutor’s office has gathered sufficient evidence. Prosecutors will now try to prove that the openly racist party operated as a criminal organization under a military-style leadership that allegedly encouraged the beating and killing of migrants and political opponents.