Feature: Greeks, migrants rally for justice 4 years after start of far-Right party's trial

Source: Xinhua| 2019-04-19 02:32:22|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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ATHENS, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Four years after the start of the trial of far-Right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party, hundreds of Greeks and migrants marched on Thursday demanding justice, as incidents of racist violence continue, according to a report released in Athens.

"It is time neo-Nazi killers are imprisoned," read banners held by members of anti-racist groups, labor unions, students and migrants associations outside the courthouse where the trial is held.

In April 2015, a total of 69 defendants, among them the leader of Golden Dawn (GD) Nikos Michaloliakos and the party's entire parliamentary group, were led before justice on charges of establishing and running a criminal organization linked to dozens of racist attacks.

The countdown for GD's leadership and members had started in autumn 2013, after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, 34, a Greek anti-fascist activist musician, by a GD supporter, at a Piraeus port suburb.

It was the first politically motivated crime committed by a GD supporter since the party's entrance in parliament for the first time in 2012, riding on the wave of discontent over austerity.

The killing sent shockwaves across the country and triggered a judicial crackdown on Golden Dawn.

Four years later, all defendants, including Yorgos Roupakias, who is charged of the stabbing, have released from custody, since under Greek law they can be held up to 18 months, and the trial continues.

Victims of racist assaults, their families, and various groups have protested for the delays in the procedures. It took several months, for example, before a suitable courthouse to host the trial is found.

In the meantime, in the 2015 elections GD was reelected as the third larger party in the parliament and still holds ground, according to opinion polls.

Four years later the end of the process is expected in coming months, despite the foot-dragging attempts by defendants' lawyers, attorneys representing victims, said on Thursday, expressing confidence on the verdict.

"The fact that Golden Dawn is a Nazi criminal organization is undoubtedly proved by the evidence material," Kostas Papadakis told Xinhua.

Papadakis is the civil attorney representing four Egyptian fishermen who were assaulted by a group of some 20 persons inside their home in a Piraeus port suburb during the night of June 12, 2012.

One of the victims, aged 28, father of three children, was severely injured and still faces serious health problems.

Six persons, four men and two women, were arrested by police and recognized by the victims. One of the defendants is charged with participation also in other attacks, including the fatal attack on Fyssas.

Papadakis expressed concern over amendments of the penal code currently promoted by the government which will reduce the sentences for many crimes, including participation in a gang.

"Defendants charged with running a criminal organization get shorter sentences, as their responsibility under law is downgraded. This must not pass," he said.

"People do not forget fascism, do not forgive the Golden Dawn, but fight inside and outside the courthouses," the attorney stressed.

After a drastic reduction of racist attacks by large groups in the first months after Fyssas' killing and the start of the legal marathon against GD, racism violence has not vanished, but is on the rise.

The Racist Violence Recording Network (RVRN) established in 2011 with the initiative of UNHCR and the Greek National Commission for Human Rights, an independent advisory body to the state on human rights issues, presented on Thursday during a press conference the annual report for 2018.

RVRN documented 117 incidents of racist violence with 130 victims last year. In 74 cases the targets were immigrants and refugees, up from 34 recorded the year before. In the rest of the incidents the victims were mainly LGBTQI persons.

In 2017 the network had recorded a total of 102 racist incidents with 120 victims.

"We always do not focus on the numbers, because we know that violence anywhere in the world is not fully reported. We know that we are recording only the top of the iceberg," Tina Stavrinaki, RVRN's Assistant Coordinator, told Xinhua.

"Solidarity should be strengthened in Europe and across the world in order to be able to address such issues," Kalliopi Stefanaki, UNHCR's officer in Greece, told Xinhua.