Ex-Golden Dawn members reveal neo-Nazi party's 'criminal acts'
ATHENS - Agence France Presse
Christos Pappas, lawmaker of the extreme far-right Golden Dawn party, shouts slogans as he sits inside a police car before being escorted to the prosecutor's office from the police headquarters in Athens on September 29, 2013. AFP photoGreece's Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party regularly organised "assault militias" in which dozens of members would ride the streets on motorbikes, hitting immigrants with sticks, according to a government report and testimonies cited in the Greek press on Monday.
"I took part several times in activities involving 50 or 60 motorbikes, with two people on each. The one who was sitting behind held a stick with the Greek flag and hit all the Pakistanis he could see," one ex-member said in court testimony.
Greek police arrested the controversial party's founder Nikos Michaloliakos, five prominent Golden Dawn lawmakers and more than a dozen other suspected members -- including police officers -- amid high tensions following the murder of anti-fascist musician Pavlos Fyssas, allegedly stabbed to death by a self-confessed Golden Dawn supporter on September 18.
Testimonies from two former members, along with a report by an examining magistrate revealed a series of "criminal acts" by the group, press reports said.
Golden Dawn has a "strictly hierarchical structure, the leader is all-powerful following the principle used by Hitler," said the report by the deputy prosecutor of the Supreme Court, Charalambos Vourliotis.
The neo-Nazi party started its attacks in 1987, the report said, initially targeting immigrants and then turning against Greeks.
The magistrate's report said party members were trained in military style and had allegedly committed dozens of criminal acts, including voluntary homicide and attempted homicide.
Police on Monday continued their raids on Golden Dawn premises, searching for hidden arms supplies.
A search of the home of Golden Dawn deputy leader Christos Pappas in the northwestern city of Ioannina turned up photographs of Adolf Hitler, swastikas and German army helmets, reports said.
Greek authorities on Monday were examining ways to cut off Golden Dawn's funding from the state, to which all parliamentary parties are nominally entitled.
The justice ministry on Monday said it would table emergency legislation to stop the institutional flow of state funds to the neo-Nazi party.
"Democracy cannot be funding its opponents," deputy prime minister Evangelos Venizelos, head of Greece's socialist party, told a news conference.
"(Payment) suspension mechanisms will be put into effect" ahead of the Golden Dawn court trials, he said.
Venizelos, a constitutional expert, also played down fears that Golden Dawn lawmakers could resign en masse to force by-elections around Greece.
"I do not think they will dare to resign," Venizelos said. "Nobody can make a mockery of parliamentary and democratic institutions (in Greece)."