Greek neo-Nazi MPs charged in Golden Dawn crackdown
Athens: Four lawmakers from Greece`s Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party were charged on Wednesday with belonging to a criminal organisation as authorities moved to dismantle the group after the murder of an anti-fascist musician.
The indictments -- the first ever against neo-Nazi MPs in Greece -- were unveiled as Golden Dawn`s leader was due to appear in court later today to face the same charge.
Three of those indicted today were conditionally released, a move seen as surprising given the gravity of the charges, but justice officials later stressed that release did not mean acquittal.
The three freed lawmakers -- party spokesman Ilias Kassidiaris, Nikos Michos and Ilias Panagiotaros -- came out in a combative mood, insulting and threatening reporters outside the Athens court complex.
"Only with bullets can you stop us," hissed Michos.
Kassidiaris, who is also to stand trial for hitting a female lawmaker on television, slapped aside a camera and shoved another reporter to the ground.
Panagiotaros called journalists "losers" and "little slaves."
Government officials stressed the political implications of the judicial action against them.
"Criminal charges have been filed... This is just the first phase," Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis told Skai TV.
"What is politically important is that Golden Dawn is characterised as a criminal organisation," the ruling party`s parliament spokesman Makis Voridis told the station.
Golden Dawn was the country`s third most popular party until the murder of anti-fascist hip-hop musician Pavlos Fyssas on September 18 sparked nationwide protests and a government crackdown on the group long accused of attacking immigrants, charges that it denies.
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