There have been calls for far-right Greek MEP to be “excluded from all democratic processes” in the European Parliament.
Yannis Lagos, one of the leaders of the Golden Dawn political party, was this week found guilty of running it as a criminal organisation.
He faces five to 15 years in prison and some of his fellow MEPs are calling for the European Parliament to exclude him.
The institution, responding to calls to remove Lagos’ parliamentary immunity, said it would only do so once it had received formal notification from the Greek authorities. But this process can be quite lengthy, so one Greek MEP is calling on parliament president David Sassoli to take action and exclude him now.
“This is a landmark decision and Pavlos Fyssas [a rapper murdered by a member of Golden Dawn, which formed part of the trial] was the symbol and a wake up call for all,” Nick Androulakis, a Greek MEP, told Euronews.
“A symbol that mobilises all the liberal democratic forces of Europe and a symbolic decision has to be made by the [European Parliament] president Sassoli, which will exclude Lagos from all the democratic processes.
“It’s unacceptable that Lagos has the same rights as every democratically elected MEP, being himself a member of this criminal gang as the justice has decided.”
Founded as a Nazi-inspired group in the 1980s, Golden Dawn remained on the far fringes of politics until Greece’s brutal, near-decade-long financial crisis that began in 2009.
It grew in support to eventually become the country’s third-largest party. Considered a model for many extreme-right groups in Europe and beyond, it won parliamentary seats in four elections from 2012 until 2019, when its popularity plummeted and it failed to elect any legislators.
The trial against party lawmakers, members and supporters was sparked by the 2013 fatal stabbing of left-wing Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas and encompassed another three cases: physical attacks against Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and on left-wing activists in 2013, and whether Golden Dawn was operating as a criminal organisation.
Giorgos Roupakias, accused of being a party supporter who delivered the fatal stab wounds to Fyssas, was found guilty of murder, possession and use of a weapon, and faces a potential life sentence. Fifteen others — none of them former lawmakers — were convicted as accomplices.