Hold the trial in central Athens
The prosecution of Greece's Golden Dawn, begun on April 20 but postponed, will begin again on May 7--but still in the specially built courtroom inside Korydallos prison, despite the lack of space necessary for this crucial trial.
A total of 69 members of Golden Dawn, including 18 who represented the fascists in the previous parliament, are on trial on charges that they ran a criminal organization responsible for violent attacks on immigrants, left-wing activists and other opponents of the fascists. The charge revolves around three assaults carried out by the fascists, including the murder of left-wing hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013.
Anti-fascist activists and the left are mobilizing to make sure the trial of the neo-Nazis remains a central political issue. In this article written for Workers' Left, the newspaper of the Greek socialist group Internationalist Workers Left,reports on the mobilization for the first day of the trial and plans for action in the weeks ahead.
STARTING EARLY in the morning on April 20, more than 2,000 anti-fascist demonstrators from four different feeder protests came together at the intersection of Gregory Lambraki and Solomou outside of Korydallos prison to demand that the Nazi organization be convicted on charges that it is a criminal organization.
Only a few dozen unrepentant Golden Dawn supporters gathered on the other side of the prison--a pitiful shadow of the once powerful street forces of this gang.
The area surrounding the prison was filled with more than 2,000 police. Despite this huge presence, however, the police failed to prevent an attack by the neo-Nazis on the friends of Pavlos Fyssas, who came to the prison to testify as witnesses at the trial. This confirms that the close relationship between the fascists and state security forces has not been disturbed, despite the prosecution of Golden Dawn.
Because of the nationwide sentiment to condemn the fascists for their crimes, the trial wasn't postponed, despite the fact that the courtroom built inside Korydallos prison is inadequate, something that all sides recognized. So the trial began with a reading of the indictment and the list of 69 accused and 133 witnesses. This was interrupted because one of the defendants--Golden Dawn member Nikos Papavasiliou, already convicted for committing arson against immigrant shops--said he had no lawyer. The court ordered the appointment of an advocate and set a new date of May 7 for the trial to continue.
The aim of the Golden Dawn defendants was obvious from the start--to stall the start of the substantial part of the trial with procedural motions, something that is expected to continue in the coming weeks. Also obvious was the desire of Golden Dawn's current MPs to stay out of the public eye--all except for Artemis Matthaiopoulos were absent from the courtroom on April 20 and represented by their lawyers.
By contrast, the anti-fascist movement and the left were represented inside and outside the courtroom by eight members of parliament from SYRIZA, along with many elected local councilors and trade unionists.
It will be necessary for the left to keep the trial of the neo-Nazis at the forefront of politics in Greece, and to continue the discussion about the importance of convicting the fascists in our communities, workplaces and schools. More protests are to come--in Piraeus organized by Syriza and in New Philadelphia by the anti-fascist organization Expel Racism. Similar local initiatives are expected in areas around the country.
We will mobilize again on May 7, inside and outside the courtroom of Korydallos prison to demand that the trial be moved to a central area in Athens and against any new attempts of the neo-Nazis to gain time. The prosecution phase of the trial must begin now, starting with the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.