A JUDGE IN Greece today threw out a pivotal anti-racism case brought by neo-Nazi party the Golden Dawn against individuals it accused of inciting violence against it.
The party filed the lawsuit against multiple leftist groups including prominent far-left intellectual Savvas Michail whom it accused of calling on the public to protest against “criminal organisation” the Golden Dawn in 2009.
Conservative academic Konstantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of Athens’ Polytechnic University who ran with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy party elections last year, was accused of allowing an anti-fascist website to broadcast from the university.
The subsequent suit signed by party members and at least one elected deputy accused the two of “inciting violence” against the Golden Dawn and “disrupting public order”.
Michail, the only person actually prosecuted in a trial which opened yesterday and lasted one day, hailed the dismissal of the case, which judges dropped in line with recommendations from prosecutors. He said:
This is a victory against the neo-Nazi threat that until now has wanted to impose its own law. All of their arguments collapsed.
For the Greek left and human rights groups, the case has symbolised a landmark moment in the fight against the rise of the far-right party, which first entered parliament in 2012.
A number of leftists and rights activists protested at the trial opening on Tuesday but the Golden Dawn itself kept a low profile, with only three supporters who denied any political affiliation to the party turning up.
The case focused on Michail’s 2009 proclamation which ended with the statement “People don’t forget, they hang fascists”, a cry frequently heard in anti-racism demonstrations in Greece.
Golden Dawn claimed this was a direct threat, while the defence insisted it was only a metaphor and a frequently-used call against fascism since the fall of the 1967-1974 military junta in Greece.
“This trial is a scandal in itself, it should never have taken place,” said radical left party Syriza deputy Thodoris Dritsas, who was a witness for the defence.
“It is the first time since the fall of the junta that a person has stood trial for making anti-fascist statements,” Michail told AFP, adding:
They want to create a legal precedent in order to outlaw the anti-fascist movement.
Opponents of the Golden Dawn have viewed the case as ironic for a party known for its anti-Semitic and xenophobic discourse whose members have been implicated in violent assaults against immigrants.
“The Golden Dawn can implement their violent political programme unpunished… with incredible hatred… directly leading to violence,” warned the Greek League of Human Rights before the trial.
“The Nazis publish my photograph and call on people to crush the “Jewish parasite,” but nobody goes after them,” said Michail, who is of Jewish descent.
Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has publicly denied the Holocaust ever took place but has never been brought to justice for his statements.
Benefiting from a rise in social tensions in heavily indebted Greece, Golden Dawn was first elected to parliament last year, winning nearly seven percent of the vote and 18 seats out of an overall 300.