Police in Greece have arrested Nikos Michaloliakos, the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party, along with over a dozen party members. The move follows the murder of anti-racism rapper Pavlos Fissas by a Golden Dawn supporter.
Thirty six arrest warrants have been issued so far and arrests are continuing. All face charges of involvement in a criminal organisation.
Golden Dawn supporters turned out in force at the party headquarters. The party website also urged protests in solidarity with its
leader. But despite the show of strength, latest polls indicate the party is now facing a backlash, with up to a third of support lost.
34-year-old Pavlos Fissas was fatally stabbed in Athens on 18 September, allegedly caught up in a coordinated attack involving over 20 Golden Dawn supporters.
In the aftermath of his death, a galvanised and shocked country reacted. But Greece’s third most popular party, fuelled by anger over austerity measures and state corruption has also pushed immigrants into the line of fire. The Golden Dawn took 18 seats in parliament out of a total of 300 lawmakers. They also scored 14% of support in opinion polls but this has now slumped to 6.7% following the death of Fissas.
From Athens, Euronews correspondent Stamatis Giannisis said:
“The arrests of the high-ranking Golden Dawn members is seen as a clear sign of determination by the government and the judiciary of Greece to expose the illegal activities of the extreme right wing party and prove that it has been acting as a criminal gang rather than as a political force. Whether they will be successful or not, may take some time to be seen, as the Golden Dawn still rates surprisingly highly in the polls.”