Athens court releases three far-right lawmakers

Athens court releases three far-right lawmakers

ATHENS, Greece - The Associated Press
Athens court releases three far-right lawmakers

Ilias Kasidiaris (L) followed by Ilias Nikos Michos leave the court. AP photo

Three lawmakers from Greece’s extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party were released from custody Oct.2 pending trial, after they provided initial testimony in criminal investigation triggered by the slaying of a left-wing rapper.

An Athens court released party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris on a 50,000 euro bail and a ban on leaving the country. No bail was set for Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos, who were also banned from leaving the country.

A fourth lawmaker, Ioannis Lagos, was jailed pending trial. The four had been testifying before an investigative magistrate in a court session that began Tuesday afternoon and lasted through the night, ending mid-morning Oct.2.

“This essentially changes nothing. There charges stand, the investigation is ongoing and the evidence is being gathered,” Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis said on Skai television. “We are at the first stage of this investigation.”

The head of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, who is also detained, was to testify later in the day, while a sixth lawmaker is scheduled to appear in court Thursday.

The three lawmakers who were released stormed out of the court building, with Kasidiaris punching a television camera as he went.

The man arrested at the scene of the stabbing identified himself to police as a member of Golden Dawn. The party has vehemently denied any role in the killing.