Greece vows to eradicate police links to neo-Nazis
ATHENS - Agence France-Presse
Police deploy in front of the Korydallos high-security prison on October 3, 2013 before the transfer of the leader of Greece's Golden Dawn party, Nikos Michaloliakos, pending his trial on criminal charges as the government cracks down on the neo-Nazi group. AFP photoGreece is determined to rid its police force of any links with Golden Dawn, the minister for public order said Sunday, after the arrest of officers with ties to the neo-Nazi party.
Nikos Dendias said there should be "a total catharsis so that there is nothing suspicious that could cast a shadow on the majority of police officers, who are honest," in an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini.
Dendias admitted that there were "corrupt officers who had collaborated with Golden Dawn", which he labelled "a criminal organisation".
Four police officers have been arrested over their links to the far-right party, whose leader was indicted this week along with five others for taking part in a criminal organisation following the murder of an anti-fascist musician last month.
Among the officers arrested are a former police chief of the Agios Panteleimon neighbourhood of central Athens -- the scene of multiple attacks by neo-Nazis on immigrants in recent years -- on charges of abuse of power and arms trafficking, and an officer at the Piraeus port near the capital charged with belonging to a criminal organisation.
The arrests are part of efforts by the Greek authorities to dismantle the Golden Dawn following the murder of hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas by a self-confessed neo-Nazi. The killing sparked protests, forcing officials to take action against a group long accused of attacking immigrants, charges that it denies.
"We are talking about a party that, aside from its sickening ideology, behaves like a mob," Dendias said.
Golden Dawn, which only entered parliament in 2012, struck a chord with Greeks angry at having to struggle under the weight of heavy austerity measures and high unemployment in a sixth year of recession for the debt-wracked nation.
But the party's popularity has fallen since the murder of Fyssas. A poll published in the weekly Proto Thema on Sunday put the party's popularity rating at 6.7 percent, down from 10 percent in June.