Athens: Greek police cracked down on the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, arresting its founding leader and four other members of parliament, following the murder of a leftist musician allegedly by a party activist.
The five Golden Dawn lawmakers, including founder Nikos Michaloliakos, were held overnight yesterday and are under investigation for belonging to a criminal organisation, a court source said.
The arrests came a day after Golden Dawn threatened to pull its lawmakers out of parliament, a move that could trigger a political crisis in the recession-hit country.
In dawn raids, Greek anti-terror police arrested Michaloliakos, who founded the party in 1980, along with party spokesman and MP Ilias Kasidiairis and three other lawmakers.
Michaloliakos is also under investigation for a separate charge of leading a criminal organisation.
The five will remain under arrest pending the outcome of a judicial investigation into the possible charges to be laid, a process of up to five days, a court source said.
The serious nature of the case could lead to discussion in parliament to strip the deputies of their parliamentary immunity.
Golden Dawn faced mounting pressure after a self-confessed neo-Nazi was arrested over the fatal stabbing of popular hip-hop musician Pavlos Fyssas, 34, on September 18, a killing that sparked nationwide protests.
The police sweep came after Greece`s supreme court, which has been charged with investigating the far-right group, issued arrest warrants for some 30 members.
Golden Dawn urged its followers to demonstrate against what it called an "illegal decision", and several hundred faithful gathered outside the police station where the suspects were being held.