Greek neo-Nazi deputy leader sent to prison

·2-min read

The deputy leader of 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 evaded justice since October, when he was sentenced to more than 13 years in jail during a landmark trial of 50 Golden Dawn members.

The defendants faced charges including running a criminal organisation, murder, assault and illegal weapons possession. Pappas was jailed for his leading role in running Golden Dawn.

The 59-year-old was arrested on Thursday in an apartment in the Athens district of Zografou and appeared Friday before a prosecutor, 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 facility in central Greece.

A 52-year-old woman who allegedly hid Pappas in her home was also arrested, a police statement said.

The Golden Dawn trial, which lasted more than five years, has been described as one of the most significant in Greek political history.

Pappas, a mustachioed former furniture store owner whose lieutenant general father was part of the 1967 army coup that installed a seven-year dictatorship in Greece, was considered a leading ideologue of Golden Dawn.

He is a noted fan of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and a collector of fascist memorabilia.

- 'Toxic poison' -

Pappas was the last Golden Dawn cadre to evade justice, after former senior member Ioannis Lagos, a member of the European Parliament, was extradited from Belgium in May.

"Greek democracy fought and eliminated the toxic poison of Golden Dawn," government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said in a statement late Thursday.

"With the arrest of Christos Pappas, the chapter of this criminal organisation is finally closed."

Pappas had made it clear during the trial that he had no intention of turning himself in, hoping to secure a lighter sentence on appeal.

Golden Dawn became the third largest party in Greece's parliament in 2012 on the back of anger over the 2009 financial crisis.

But its influence began to ebb as the group's criminal activities came to light in trial testimony, and it failed to win a single seat in the last parliamentary election in 2019.

The court accepted that the openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic group operated under a military-style leadership that encouraged the beating of migrants and political opponents.

Prosecutors outlined how Golden Dawn set up militias who roamed the streets, often armed with knuckle dusters, crowbars and knives.

Crimes tied 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 unionists.

The organisation's founder and longterm leader Nikos Michaloliakos has also been sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, alongside several other senior party members.

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