On 20 April, the trial of 69 members of Greece’s fascist party Golden Dawn — Greece’s “little Nuremberg” — began in a packed room at the Women’s Prison of Korydallos, near Piraeus.
It was then adjourned to 7 May, in order to designate defence counsel for one of the defendants who had no lawyer.
The 69 defendants include the head of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, and all the previous parliamentary group of Golden Dawn.
The matters before the court are:
• The murder of the musician Pavlos Fyssas on the night of 17 September 2013
• The attack on three Egyptian fishermen in their home in Perama on 12 June 2012
• The attack on members of PAME (the trade union faction of the Greek Communist Party, KKE) on 12 September 2013 in Perama, when nine were injured
• The violent attack on workers from Pakistan in the Ierapetra area on 13 February 2013
• The assassination of Pakistani labourer Zachzat Loukman on 17 January 2013 in Petralona
• The attack on the social space “Antipnoia” on 30 June 2008 in Petralona.
The fascists will try to convince the court that the attacks, injuries, and killings that 145 key witnesses will testify to do not constitute a proof of a criminal organisation. They will try to prove that the “criminal activity” is not directly linked with the operations of a “legitimate political party” but instead with “extreme individuals” and “loose cannon”.
But on the morning of 20 April, before the start of the trial, a group of Golden Dawn thugs attacked two witnesses and friends of Pavlos Fyssas’s family on their way to Korydallos prison for the trial. Both of the witnesses were hospitalised.
Citizens of Korydallos rallied at the city hall from 8 am, protesting against the trial being held in this area, as the courtroom is located near eleven schools. By decision of the municipality of Korydallos, all public buildings in the area were closed for the day.
Anti-fascist demonstrations were organised by the “United Movement against Racism and Fascist Threat” and the Antifascist Coordinations as well as Syriza, KKE, Antarsya and other organisations of the left. A four hour anti-fascist strike was called by the trade unions.
The left and the anti-fascist movement need to use the court case and the justice system as an additional tool in exposing Golden Dawn in the eyes of the Greek society and convincing people that Golden Dawn is a gang of murderers and robbers who if given the opportunity will destroy the organised labour and social movements.
Would fascism end with a conviction of the Golden Dawn leadership?
Obviously not. After 2000 armed fascists clashed with the police in the “Beer Hall Putsch” in November 1923 in Munich, Hitler was defeated and captured. The Nazis’ newspaper Völkischer Beobachter was banned and the National Socialist Party was outlawed.
Hitler was sentenced to five years’ jail, subsequently reduced to 8 months.
But then, from the end of the 1920s, the crisis deepened and the Left failed to unite against the Nazis or to propose an exit plan from the crisis. In January 1933 Hitler became chancellor and in March of the same year he got 44% of the votes of the German people in the elections.
Michaloliakos was jailed for a few months in the late 70s after being convicted for placing bombs in cinemas playing progressive films. Yet in 2012 he was elected to the Greek parliament.
But a serious court verdict against Golden Dawn will be a battle won in a war that will then go on under better terms for the antifascist movement.
The anti-fascist movement has to pick up the thread of the great mobilisations of the days that followed the murder of Paul Fyssas and forced the then Tory government and prosecutors to dig up 32 cases of violence by Golden Dawn thugs and proceed to the prosecution of Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation.
We should revitalise, or form where they do not already exist, anti-fascist networks in every neighbourhood in Greece, with information events on every corner, special publications, and meetings, to ensure a massive presence at the trial and emphatically outnumber the Nazis.
Golden Dawn Watch, a newly established observatory for the duration of the trial, formed by Greek and foreign journalists, lawyers, activists, representatives of anti-fascist organisations and so on, will give daily updates from the trial.
Anti-fascists will also demand the transfer of the proceedings from Korydallos to a central area of Athens that will ensure that the trial is open and public.
We also demand that the government stops parliamentary money for Golden Dawn. Thanassis Kampagiannis, an anti-fascist lawyer at the trial, says: “Golden Dawn defendants will have 100 to 200 lawyers. Too many of them are employees of the Golden Dawn MPs paid from the parliamentary budget, because those benefits have not been cut. This is scandalous, taking into account that there is no legal aid for the victims of the violence of the Golden Dawn”.
Opinions that the left should keep its distance, “leave the justice system to do its job”, and avoid “attempting political exploitation of the trial”, can prove disastrous. The Left needs to declare loud and clear its desire to obtain justice for the victims of fascism.
All the leaders of Golden Dawn should go back to prison and all the businessmen, ship owners and members of the political establishment who have helped them should follow them. Not even one member of the Syriza-Anel government should be allowed to backtrack from those goals, or offer Golden Dawn the rights of a “legitimate political party.”
We need to cement the united front of the Greek working class and social movements with our immigrant and refugee brothers to put an end to austerity, racism and fascism.