Leaders of Greek far-right Golden Dawn party jailed over hate crimes

Several politicians associated with the Greek far-right party Golden Dawn have been sentenced to lengthy prison sentences after they were found guilty for running a criminal enterprise blamed for hate crimes.

Golden Dawn, once Greece‘s third largest political party, entered parliament in 2012, using anti-immigration sentiment and opposition to austerity measures.

A criminal investigation into Golden Dawn began after the murder of an anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013, and looked at whether the group was behind the attack, as well as a string of incidents involving immigrants and left-wing activists.

Last week, party member Yiorgos Roupakias was found guilty of the killing, and was handed a life sentence in prison on Wednesday.

He also got an additional 10 years in prison for belonging to the criminal group.

Golden Dawn’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other top members of the party were convicted of heading a criminal group, with Michaloliakos being sentenced to 13 years, while 11 other members were given between five and seven years.

Yannis Lagos, a current member of European Parliament for Greece and one of the founders of the party, was also sentenced to 13 years in prison.

In total, prosecutors had charged 65 people, including 18 former Golden Dawn politicians, with being members of a criminal group.

When the trial started in 2015, the party said it was the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt, but during investigations, police found unlicensed weapons and Nazi memorabilia in the homes of party members.

Last week, when the verdicts were delivered, thousands of anti-racism protesters gathered outside the court in Athens.

Police fired tear gas into the crowd after some demonstrators hurled petrol bombs at officers.

Human rights group Amnesty International, which set up a network to record racist violence in Greece, said last week’s verdicts would help boost efforts to fight hate crimes.

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