MP for Golden Dawn behind bars after nine months on the run

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The far-right extremist long regarded as the main ideologue of Golden Dawn has been placed behind bars after nine months on the run, starting a 13-year prison sentence handed down by a Greek court in October.

Evicted from his lair – an apartment where he had been hiding in Athens – Christos Pappas, the deputy leader of the now missing group, was led in a whirlwind of sirens from police headquarters to the courts on Friday and then to prison in central Greece. .

Less than 15 hours had passed since his capture by anti-terrorist units Thursday evening in Athens central district of Zografou.

“Greek democracy has struggled to get rid of this poisonous Golden Dawn poison,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said. “The arrest of Christos Pappas puts an end to this chapter of this criminal organization.

Pappas was the last of the Golden Dawn cadres to evade justice after the end of a landmark trial last year with dozens of party members sentenced to lengthy prison terms. Ioannis Lagos, elected with the group as a member of the European Parliament, had also tried to escape prison by using his political status to claim immunity but was arrested in Brussels in April and extradited the following month.

Speaking to reporters, the country’s Minister for the Protection of Citizens, Michalis Chrysohoidis, described the seizure of the 60-year-old former MP as “the result of methodical and systematic research”.

The ground-floor apartment belonged to a Ukrainian woman, who also appeared before a public prosecutor on Friday accused of aiding and abetting the fugitive. The 52-year-old has been described as a far-right sympathizer.

Like other convicted Golden Dawn leaders, Pappas was convicted of carrying out a criminal operation on the pretext that it was a political organization, murder, assault and illegal possession of weapons. .

The verdict follows more than five years of legal proceedings, with the hearing being described as one of the most important in Greek political history. The court ruled that the group had not only exploited widespread anger at the height of the country’s debt crisis to strengthen its position, but had targeted migrants and political opponents through armed militias who spread terror in the country. the streets of Athens and other major cities.

Once Greece’s third-largest political force, Golden Dawn only began to crumble after a popular anti-fascist rapper, Pavlos Fyssas, was fatally stabbed by a senior executive in 2013.

The son of an army officer who had helped orchestrate the coup that inaugurated seven years of military dictatorship in 1967, Pappas was the right-hand man of Nikos Michaloliakos, who founded what was originally a marginal group.

Images of the unrepentant fascist teaching his children the Nazi salute were found in his home with Nazi props when authorities first cracked down on the party.

Pappas’ escape, when it was supposed to be under police surveillance, greatly embarrassed the Greek authorities.

The hunt for the doomed neo-Nazi had spread from the monasteries supposed to house him on Mount Athos to neighboring Serbia and Romania.

The left-wing opposition and anti-fascist activists have both criticized the government for taking 253 days to arrest a man who they say should never have “passed through the fingers of the police” in the first place.

Pappas’ lawyer Pericles Stavrianakis said that although he believed his client was in hiding in Athens, he was told he was only visiting the apartment and not hiding there not.

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