Police and anti-fascist protesters have clashed in Athens near the Golden Dawn party headquarters.
Riot officers fired tear gas at protesters who hurled petrol bombs and stones. Rampaging protesters set garbage cans on fire and smashed bank windows. Police chased small groups of protesters through the streets.
The violence in the Greek capital came after dozens of demonstrators broke off from an otherwise peaceful march that police prevented from reaching the offices of the ultra right-wing, anti-immigrant party.
The day had seen the largest protest so far against the killing of left-wing activist and hip hop performer Pavlos Fissas, allegedly by a Golden Dawn supporter.
Demonstrators gathered near parliament demanding the party be banned. They also called for the prosecution of its leadership along with party members accused of involvement in racist attacks as well as other crimes such as blackmail and racketeering.
“We are afraid to go out of our houses. There are Golden Dawn gangs everywhere. They beat up people regardless of their religion, their sex, everything,” said one man at the protest.
“Golden Dawn should face the law. A way must be found so people should stop supporting them. They are inside the schools poisoning our children,” a woman added.
The rallies in Athens and the second biggest city Thessaloniki overshadowed a 48-hour public sector strike over layoffs demanded by Greece’s international lenders.
Greek anti-terrorist officers are investigating whether Golden Dawn sympathisers within the police have been acting as informants for the party.
Opinion polls since Fissas’ killing indicate the party has lost about a third of its public support. An ALCO survey for the Newsit.gr website, conducted in the days after the stabbing, found that public support for Golden Dawn was down by four percentage points to under seven percent.
The far-right party rejects the neo-Nazi tag and argues it is the target of a witch-hunt.
Euronews’ correspondent in Athens Stamatis Giannisis said:
“After the 35-year-old activist’s death last week, Golden Dawn is now under investigation by the Greek judicial authorities who are trying to establish whether its activities are similar to those of a criminal organisation. If that’s proven, some of its leading members may face up to 10 year prison terms.”