Pavlos Fyssas , (also known as Killah P), a well-known Greek rapper and vocal anti-fascist, was murdered in September of 2013 by Giorgos Roupakias, a member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn organisation. The ambush took place outside a cafe in the working-class district of Keratsini. Fyssas’s murder sparked a forceful reaction by Greece’s radical left and anarchist movements and paved the way to a thorough investigation into the neo-Nazi group’s operations.
In the aftermath of Fyssas’s murder, when the potentially precedent-setting trial begun (20th of April 2015), Greece’s neo-Nazi political organisation denied its involvement in Fyssas’s death and launched lawsuits against accusations of forming a criminal organisation, claiming to be victims of ‘’political persecution’’. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal decided that 69 Golden Dawn activists, including its entire parliamentary team elected in 2012, were eligible to stand trial for participation in a criminal organisation.
On the 18th of December 2019, six years after the start of the trial, prosecutor Adamantia Economou’s proposal sparked mass outrage. Prosecutor Economou told the court that any direct connection between members of Golden Dawn- including their leader, Nikos Michaloliakos-and the murder of Pavlos Fyssas could not be proven. She placed the responsibility for the murder exclusively on Giorgos Roupakias, denying the coordinated and organised nature of the attack. Upon hearing the proposal tabled by Εconomou, Fyssas’s mother Magda Fyssa said that,
“On the 18th of the month, Pavlos will have been dead for 75 months. Today you stabbed him again, his wound is bleeding”.
According to Omniatv’s investigation into Golden Dawn’s 1.5 terabyte-sized case file along with the analysed records of the Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN), there have been accusations of multiple murders and racist attacks with a log of some 350 witnesses and more than 100 lawyers on both sides. Overall, numerous crimes have been committed by party officials since 2008.
Among crimes investigated in connection with the ongoing Golden Dawn trial is that of Shahzad Luqman, a 27 years old worker from Pakistan who was murdered on the 17th of January 2013 by two members of Golden Dawn. The way in which this crime was carried out, the means that the perpetrators used, as well as their readiness to act are similar to the modus operandi found in racist attacks committed by Golden Dawn’s “organised hit squads” or “stormtroopers”. These are coordinated and strictly disciplined Golden Dawn assault teams that strike predetermined targets, including migrants and trade union members. Nevertheless, the authorities did not investigate possible connections to Golden Dawn and neither did they attribute the murder to racist motives, but instead to a simple altercation.
In the trial proceedings, victims of Golden Dawn assaults and their relatives were present as a Civil Party in three cases. These were the case of Pavlos Fyssas’ murder, the case of attempted murder and attacks on Ishmael Mohammed, an Egyptian fisherman, as well as the case of attempted murder against trade unionists from PAME (Trade Union Front). The case of Shahzad Luqman’s murder was not directly represented through this process. The pair’s sentences for Luqman’s murder case were reduced on appeal on May 2019, after a court of first instance had earlier handed down lifetime prison terms. Through the course of these years, the Civil Party, Magda Fyssa and the trial’s observer, Golden Dawn Watch, have presented numerous records proving Golden Dawn operates as a criminal organisation. However, many of these records have often been disregarded by the authorities.
Prosecutor Economou’s latest proposal blatantly disregards critical evidence which suggests that Pavlos Fyssas was a specific target of Golden Dawn.
Primarily, it disregards the magistrates’ investigation on records of phone conversations which prove that the attack was carried out with the knowledge of Golden Dawn senior party figures.
A further piece of crucial information disclosed by the prosecution is the one presented in the courtrooms on the 10th and 11th September of 2018 through the Forensic Architecture investigation carried out by the Fyssas family and their statutory representatives. The investigation contained a collection of CCTV footage, recordings of communications between police and emergency services, and witness testimony. These records, along with the phone conversations, establish the link between Fyssa’s murder case and members of Golden Dawn, alongside with Greece’s elite special forces, known as DIAS, as they failed to intervene - despite being present at the crime scene – before, during and after his murder.
Police have declined to comment on the report because the trial is ongoing.
Transparency of the court proceeding is seriously put into question, considering that the case file is missing evidence of the bio-chemical test results from material collected in the murder scene. As highlighted in Omniatv’s report, according to the attorney of the civil party, Andreas Tzelis, who represents the family of Pavlos Fyssas and based on information revealed on OmniaTV’s program “The Golden Dawn Trial” that aired on Friday October 9th 2015,
“Not only the test results are not included in the file but no DNA and blood samples were collected from any anyone apart from the victim and the perpetrator.”
Finally, prosecutor Economou ruled that Golden Dawn has not submitted any other charter apart from the one issued in Aeropagus Court in 2012, disregarding the one that was handed in the national jurisdictions by the journalist Dimitris Psaras. This charter makes explicit reference to the principal of the ‘’Supreme Command of the Leader’’, a direct adaptation from the National Socialist German Workers’ Party’s principal, “The Fuehrerprinzip” (Fuehrer Principle). This is only an example of the many signs of the group’s neo-Nazi ideology which were presented in court and then disregarded by the prosecution.
The organisation’s founder, leader and Holocaust denier Nikos Michaloliakos testified for the first time in November 6th this year, pleading not guilty and denouncing all accusations as politically motivated. Michaloliakos is one of the 69 defendants facing sentences of five to 20 years in prison.
When faced with legal action, Golden Dawn routinely responds through the use of terror campaigns in Greek society. Golden Dawn adopts ‘common’ fascist tactics for the creation of a regime of fear, and ‘readiness to act’ not only inside and outside the courtrooms but on daily basis in numerous districts with their so-called “Storm-troopers”. This way, they manage to convince their party members to follow orders anytime they would be called upon. Other times, under Greece’s collapsing economy and social precarity they used different approaches to attract less fanatic voters, such as holding food-banks and blood donation centres ‘only for Greeks’.
Golden Dawn took advantage of the Greek economic crisis and managed to rise its vote share from less than 20,000 in 2009 to over 426,000 in 2012, entering parliament and gradually becoming one of the strongest parties. Their rhetoric relies heavily on xenophobia, racism and overt fascist references. They capitalised on the Greek economic crisis to pitch themselves as the anti-establishment, anti-austerity alternative to ‘business as usual’, mobilising the anti-globalist discourse of the far right across Europe. The left-wing SYRIZA’s capitulation to Greece’s creditors further fuelled far-right tendencies in Greek society, with New Democracy, Greece’s conservative party, increasingly relying on authoritarian politics and rhetoric to maintain its power following SYRIZA’s loss in the 2019 elections.
The Greek courts and the political system, intimately connected with the country’s “deep state”, has been accused of whitewashing fascist and systemic violence.
In the light of repressive law and order doctrine and brutal police violence exercised by the newly elected conservative party of New Democracy, the ‘’deep state’’ functions as crucial organ in maintaining the order.
New Democracy, starting in August of 2019, has carried out a series of right-wing tactics with aggressive raids and unprovoked attacks targeting immigrants, anarchists and other political left-wing opponents, while revoking the autonomy previously granted to universities and, most recently, the protection of primary residence. However, the climate of surveillance and repression did not start with New Democracy: infamously, SYRIZA was involved in a range of refugee-squat evictions during its period in government.
Ultimately, in the course of the last few months there have been multiple reports of police violence during operations to evacuate squats towards random individuals, as well as reports for entering private properties with the absence of a prosecutor or a search warrant. These operations, symbolically centred around Exarcheia, hark back to memories of the Greek military junta of the mid-60s- early 70’s.
All media attention is focused on demonising persecuted innocent people found anywhere near the urban district. The so-called “restore law and order’’ police operation is predominantly an attempt to ‘de-radicalise’ the epicentre of autonomous self-organisation and relative sanctuary for migrants and refugees, while at the same time most of Golden Dawn’s are acquitted under the rule of ‘’isolated incidents’’. This combination of intense repression of radical left movements together with the leniency shown towards the fascists clearly demonstrate the government’s priorities and goals.
A recently published declaration signed by more than 600 names from the hip hop community, takes a stand against Golden Dawn and the prosecutor’s latest proposal:
“Oikonomou’s proposal fully acquits the leadership and cadres of the organisation for the murder of Pavlos-Killah P. It absolves them of any accusation of forming a criminal organisation, places the responsibility for the murder exclusively on Giorgos Roupakias (the Golden Dawn member who stabbed Pavlos- Killah P), and audaciously proclaims that the assault was a ‘chance encounter’. At the same time, it acquits Roupakias’ 17 accomplices, members of the Nikaia stormtrooper cell, who supposedly knew nothing of Roupakias’ movements.”
The original document can be found here. The number of signatures has now increased to 662.
“It is clear for us that political forces are directly implicated in influencing the judicial system and its decisions. The deep state, which has been whitewashing Golden Dawn’s criminal activities for years, is now planning its complete restoration and re-emergence in the streets and parliament. Golden Dawn is a product of this political system; it serves a specific purpose and it will not be defeated as easily as some believed.’’
A verdict is expected early in 2020.