ATHENS: Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn on Wednesday faces a verdict in a landmark five-year murder trial involving its top leaders and other members.
Here are the key events from the party’s rise to notoriety at the height of the Greek economic crisis to its subsequent fall:
– June 12: Four Egyptian fishermen are attacked in their sleep in the working-class Athens district of Perama by a gang of black-clad attackers suspected of being Golden Dawn members. One victim is hospitalised with serious head injuries.
– June 17: Golden Dawn grabs 6.92 percent of the vote in national elections, finishing fifth and sending 18 lawmakers to parliament.
– September 7: Newly-elected Golden Dawn lawmakers smash the stalls of unlicensed migrant peddlers in Athens and the western town of Messolonghi.
– January 17: A Pakistani migrant is fatally stabbed in central Athens by two Greeks, one of them a fireman. Police later find Golden Dawn tracts at one of the attackers’ homes. The pair are handed life sentences over the murder in 2014.
– May 2: Athens Mayor George Kaminis bans a Golden Dawn food handout exclusively catering to Greeks as racist. Hours later, Golden Dawn lawmaker George Germenis is detained after apparently trying to punch the mayor, and hitting a 12-year-old girl instead.
– September 12: Communists putting up posters in Perama are attacked by a large group of alleged Golden Dawn members bearing nail-studded clubs. Eight are hospitalised but the attackers escape.
– September 18: Anti-fascist singer Pavlos Fyssas is fatally stabbed after an apparent ambush by suspected Golden Dawn members. The alleged killer, former truck driver Yiorgos Roupakias, is immediately arrested and later confesses his Golden Dawn affiliation.
Golden Dawn continues to deny involvement and accuses its critics of slander, but pictures soon appear in the press showing Roupakias participating in party events, wearing GD insignia.
– September 28: Greek anti-terror police arrest Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos along with party spokesman and MP Ilias Kassidiaris, two other lawmakers and a dozen party members. Some, including Michaloliakos, are placed in pre-trial detention while others are conditionally released.
– May 25: Three Golden Dawn members are elected to the European Parliament for the first time, two of them army officers.
– September: Two Golden Dawn militants are convicted over an attack against an anarchist social centre that saw two people stabbed and injured.
Earlier that month, another Golden Dawn member receives a suspended one-year sentence after threatening to turn immigrants into soap in a documentary aired on Britain’s Channel 4.
– January 25: Golden Dawn finishes third in national elections, sending 17 lawmakers to parliament.
– February 4: Nearly 70 defendants including senior Golden Dawn members are sent to trial after the murder of Fyssas, with prosecutors trying to prove the party is a violent criminal organisation.
– March: Golden Dawn’s leader Michaloliakos and other senior members are conditionally released from prison after serving a maximum 18-month pre-trial sentence.
– April 20: The trial begins.
– September 17: Michaloliakos in a radio interview assumes “political responsibility” for Fyssas’ murder but denies criminal blame.
The trial stalls amid efforts to find a courtroom large enough to accommodate the procedure and a nine-month strike by lawyers. In March, Fyssas’ alleged killer Roupakias is conditionally released from prison and placed under house arrest.
May 15: Golden Dawn spokesman Kassidiaris is ejected from parliament after shoving conservative lawmaker Nikos Dendias, the present foreign minister.
– February 25: Suspected Golden Dawn militants attack a social centre in Athens, injuring four people. One of them is a prosecution lawyer for the Fyssas family, who is hit on the head with an iron bar.
– November 13: Police dismantle an explosive device outside the home of the public prosecutor who put the Golden Dawn defendants on trial.
– June and July: The first defendants appear in court. Golden Dawn fails to win a single seat in national elections in July.
– November 6: Michaloliakos denies all charges in court, claiming to be the victim of a “political plot”.
– December 18: Trial public prosecutor Adamantia Economou argues in favour of clearing Golden Dawn’s senior members of Fyssas’ murder, claiming there is insufficient evidence to implicate them.