The deputy leader of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was sent to a high-security prison on Friday after months on the run, a judicial official said.
Christos Pappas had escaped justice since October, when he was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison in a landmark trial of 50 members of Golden Dawn.
The defendants were charged with, inter alia, leading a criminal organization, murder, assault and illegal possession of weapons. Pappas was jailed for his lead role in managing Golden Dawn.
The 59-year-old man was arrested Thursday at an apartment in Athens’ Zografou district and appeared before a prosecutor on Friday, who ordered his transfer to a prison.
“Christos Pappas is being transferred to Domokos prison,” a judicial official told AFP after the hearing, referring to a high security establishment in central Greece.
A 52-year-old woman who allegedly hid Pappas at her home was also arrested, according to a police statement.
The Golden Dawn trial, which lasted more than five years, has been described as one of the most important in Greek political history.
Pappas, a mustached former furniture store owner whose lieutenant-general father was part of the 1967 coup that installed a seven-year dictatorship in Greece, was considered a leading Golden Dawn ideologue.
He is a notorious fan of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and a collector of fascist memorabilia.
– ‘Toxic poison’ –
Pappas was the last Golden Dawn executive to escape justice, after former senior member Ioannis Lagos, member of the European Parliament, was extradited from Belgium in May.
“Greek democracy has fought and eliminated the toxic poison of the Golden Dawn,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said Thursday night.
“With the arrest of Christos Pappas, the chapter of this criminal organization is finally closed. “
# photo1Pappas had made it clear during the trial that he did not intend to surrender, hoping to obtain a lighter sentence on appeal.
Golden Dawn became the third largest party in Greece’s parliament in 2012 due to anger over the 2009 financial crisis.
But his influence began to wane when the group’s criminal activities came to light in testimony at trial, and it failed to win a single seat in the last parliamentary elections in 2019.
The court admitted that the openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic group was operating under military-style leadership that encouraged the beating of migrants and political opponents.
Prosecutors explained how Golden Dawn set up militias that roamed the streets, often armed with brass knuckles, pliers and knives.
Crimes linked to the group include the murders of an anti-fascist rapper and a Pakistani migrant, as well as the beatings of four Egyptian fishermen and a group of Communist trade unionists.
The organization’s founder and longtime leader Nikos Michaloliakos was also sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, along with several other senior party leaders.
© 2021 AFP