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Two Greek lawmakers accused of criminal activity

by NIKI KITSANTONIS New York Times News Service on January 12, 2014 1:09 AM

ATHENS, Greece — Two lawmakers from Greece’s far-right party, Golden Dawn, were ordered to be taken into custody late on Saturday on charges of joining and directing a criminal organization. The decision was part of a government crackdown on the party, which has been condemned by European authorities as neo-Nazi and violent.

A magistrate ordered the lawmakers, Giorgos Germenis and Panagiotis Iliopoulos, to be detained pending trial after more than 11 hours of testimony. They were expected to be jailed today, when a third Golden Dawn lawmaker, Stathis Boukouras, is to face the magistrate on the same charges.

The prosecutors’ investigation, which includes the testimony of several protected witnesses, reported that Germenis played the role of “army major” in recruiting party supporters to participate in organized assaults against immigrants. Iliopoulos is said to have played “a crucial role” in illegal activities attributed to the party. Boukouras has been linked to a group selling protection to businesses in his native city, Corinth, southwest of Athens, and neighboring towns. All have denied any wrongdoing, saying that they are victims of “political persecution.”

Three other lawmakers, including Golden Dawn’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, have been in custody since late September, when the police began a crackdown on the party after a self-professed supporter killed a leftist rapper.

The party’s spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, and two more legislators were conditionally released pending trial on a variety of criminal charges, including attempted murder and assault.

 

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