Case file against Golden Dawn MP to be submitted to parliament
The public prosecutor’s office is to forward to parliament a case file against Golden Dawn MP Yiorgos Yermenis following an attempted assault on Athens Mayor Yiorgos Kaminis. The Golden Dawn MP’s parliamentary immunity must be lifted before he can be charged with verbal assault and attempted bodily harm. Yermenis – also known as Kaiadas – on Thursday attempted to assaulted Kaminis inside a municipal stall, after the mayor successfully stopped a Greeks-only food handout on Syntagma square by the extreme-right party.
Kaminis’ bodyguards intervened to block the punch but a 12-year-old girl was injured in the stall, which was located around 100 metres from the Golden Dawn headquarters. Yermenis also reached for a gun in the incident.
Report says Greece could ban anti-Semitic Golden Dawn party
A report released by the Council of Europe says that Greece could legally ban the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which has been linked to a number of violent, racist attacks. The 32-page report by the France-based council was issued Tuesday by its human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, following a fact-finding mission to Greece earlier this year. The report said Muiznieks was “seriously concerned by the increase in racist and other hate crimes in Greece,” and that “a number of the reported attacks have been linked to members or supporters, including MPs, of the neo-Nazi political party ‘Golden Dawn.’ ”
It said that under existing Greek legislation and under treaties signed by Athens, Greece had the legal means to take steps against Golden Dawn, including banning the party. “The Commissioner calls on the Greek authorities to be highly vigilant and use all available means to combat all forms of hate speech and hate crime, and to end impunity for these crimes,” the report said. The Greek media said the Greek government had sent the council a response indicating that it was unlikely to ban Golden Dawn. “Solutions cannot be the products of emotional responses, which could backfire or bring about unwanted results,” the Eleftherotypia newspaper quoted the Greek government’s response as saying.
A statement on the Golden Dawn website dismissed the report, saying the Council of Europe was a “Zionist institution.” The Council of Europe, which is based in Strasbourg, runs the European Court of Human Rights.
Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in the 300-member Greek Parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, now has 14 percent to 18 percent of the population’s support. Jewish and international groups groups have condemned Golden Dawn as racist and anti-Semitic.
Greece seeks stringent penalties for racist crimes
The government is expected to table for public consultation in the coming weeks a new bill introducing tougher punishment for racist and xenophobic offenses, which will bring Greece in line with a European Union directive dating back to 2008. Skai TV reported that Deputy Justice Minister Costas Karagounis has the draft legislation ready and is looking for broad support, not just from the three parties serving in the governing coalition.
According to sources, the bill foresees anyone found guilty of racist behavior, including in the media and on the Internet, facing between three and six years in jail and a fine of up to 20,000 euros. These penalties will also apply to acts of racist violence.
The Racist Violence Recording Network, a collection of 30 nongovernmental organizations initiated two years ago by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), said in a report last week that a total of 154 racist attacks were recorded in Greece in 2012. It warned that such attacks were becoming more frequent and violent.
In November 2008 the European Council adopted the “Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.” EU countries were obliged to transpose it into their national laws by November 2010.
Golden Dawn’s rise worries government
Top government officials are concerned that the coalition is not going to be able to stop the steady rise of far-right Golden Dawn ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections and are examining the possibility of changing the law to outlaw extremist parties of its ilk.
“Greece is going to give the watching world a nasty surprise in the upcoming Euro elections,” a close aide of Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said recently with regard to Golden Dawn’s showing at the polls, which are due to be held next May. The neo-Nazi party, which took 6.9 percent of the vote in last June’s national elections, has consistently taken third place in opinion polls over the last few months with support at 10 to 12 percent.
Sources said that the government is worried that Golden Dawn is successfully portraying itself as an anti-systemic party and that this will draw strong support in the European Parliament elections, when many voters feel less obliged to vote according to their traditional political beliefs.
The premier’s office is also concerned about the tendency for Golden Dawn to claim it is being victimized, allowing the party to appear “heroic” to its supporters. Last Thursday, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias prevented Golden Dawn handing out food in Syntagma Square. Samaras’s advisers fear the far-right party may have gained popularity after the incident.
In an interview with Real News weekly on Saturday, Dendias suggested that the next Parliament could approve legislation banning extremist parties as part of a constitutional review. “The constitutional review gives us the ability to exclude from the party system outgrowths such as Golden Dawn,” he said.