Published on Monday, 12 November 2012 13:12 Written by James Bone
Of the 18 Golden Dawn MPs elected in June, four have been stripped of their parliamentary immunity to face investigation for violent offences. A fifth has been accused of attacking the Mayor of Corinth with a whip.
The party leader recently gave a Nazi-style salute to young supporters in Athens and his wife, also an MP, told Parliament that immigrants were "subhumans". Another MP insisted that a Greek basketball star who has played on the national team for 12 years was not Greek because he was black.
A gay blogger told The Times that he was spat upon and punched by two Golden Dawn MPs as a third yelled homophobic abuse and egged on party thugs. A delegation that went to Parliament to protest about racist attacks was attacked by a Golden Dawn MP.
Police bodyguards have been withdrawn from Golden Dawn MPs after the officers were criticised for failing to stop assaults. Nikos Dendias, the Public Order Minister, presented the parliament with a list of 15 reports of threats or violence made against Golden Dawn since the election, including six that allegedly involved sitting MPs.
Dimitri Psarras, author of The Black Book of Golden Dawn, said: "These were violent people long before they became MPs. Golden Dawn is a real neo-Nazi movement. It's not neo-Fascist or extreme Right. It's the only organisation in Greece that still loves Hitlerism and reads [the Nazi ideologist Alfred] Rosenberg and [the Nazi propaganda chief Josef] Goebbels. The violence is for them the message of their politics."
The party claims that it is being persecuted by mainstream parties and the media. Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the Golden Dawn leader, complained on Greece's Skai TV last week that other MPs accused of crimes had been allowed to keep their immunity.
Golden Dawn, which had been a tiny fringe party, stormed into parliament for the first time in May with almost 7 per cent of the vote, a result confirmed by a second election the next month. In parliament, the new Golden Dawn MPs have apparently been ordered not to socialise with those of other parties, who shun them anyway.
Breaking with normal practice, MPs voted to deny the neo-Nazi party a post in the Speaker's office.
The world got a first taste of Golden Dawn's propensity for violence when a TV clip of the party's parliamentary spokesman slapping a female MP during a live talk show went viral on the internet. Ilias Kasidiaris faces a criminal investigation for hitting Liana Kanelli, a Communist MP. "The first was a slap. The second and the third were a fist," Ms Kanelli told The Times.
Mr Kasidiaris is one of the four Golden Dawn MPs stripped of immunity but not for the assault on Ms Kanelli. He faces charges from before he was elected, alleging his involvement in a 2007 attack on a university lecturer by thugs who prosecutors say used Mr Kasidiaris's car. He denies the charges.
The other three MPs stripped off immunity - Konstantinos Barbarousis, Panayiotis Iliopoulos and the "black metal" rocker George Germenis - are under investigation for smashing up the stalls of immigrant market vendors. The main evidence against them comes from videos of the attacks posted on Golden Dawn's own website.
Polls put Golden Dawn in third place behind the ruling New Democracy party and the main opposition Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), with up to 14 per cent of the vote.
Credit: The Australian