An Athens court extended until Monday a sentencing hearing for key and associate members of the Greek far-right Golden Dawn convicted earlier this week of several crimes. Defense lawyers for 18 former party lawmakers and dozens of other members and supporters argued Friday for more lenient sentences for a second day. The lengthy sentencing process is the latest chapter in a politically charged five-year trial that encompassed four cases and involved 68 defendants, more than 200 witnesses and more than 60 lawyers.
Lawyers representing former parliamentarians, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, present extenuating circumstances, including health problems and the lack of previous convictions for many of those convicted. Founded as a Nazi-inspired group in the 1980s, Golden Dawn remained on the fringes of politics until the brutal nearly ten-year financial crisis in Greece which began in 2009. It gained support and finally been supported to become the third largest party in the country. Considered as a role model for many far-right groups in Europe and beyond, he won parliamentary seats in four elections from 2012 to 2019, when his popularity plummeted and failed to elect lawmakers.
The lawsuit against party lawmakers, members and supporters was sparked by the 2013 fatal stabbing of left-wing Greek rapper Pavlos Fyssas, and included three other cases: physical assaults on Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and activists left in 2013, and whether Golden Dawn was operating as a criminal organization.
Giorgos Roupakias, accused of being a supporter of the party that inflicted the fatal stab wounds on Fyssas, has been found guilty of murder, possession and use of a weapon and faces a life sentence. Fifteen others none of whom were former lawmakers were found guilty of accomplices. None of the former lawmakers, who had all served a maximum of 18 months in remand appeared in court for the verdict on Wednesday or during the sentencing process.