Biggest Nazi Trial Since Nuremberg

first published in Morning Star

The biggest trial of fascist criminality since Nuremberg has resulted in the resounding conviction of Greek neonazi party Golden Dawn as a criminal organisation.

The roars of approval at the guilty verdicts from about 10,000 protesters on Alexandras Avenue outside the main court complex in Athens were echoed in many households across Greece yesterday. As former Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras put it: “The people had already made their judgement.”

The three judges found the seven-member “political council” of Golden Dawn all guilty of directing a criminal organisation, under the law that covers gangsterism. All the other former MPs are guilty of membership of a criminal organisation, as are others of the 68 defendants.

It is a landmark ruling. It is not just that criminal activities – murders, attempted murders and other felonies – were organised within the neonazi party. It is that from top to bottom Golden Dawn was identical with that criminal organisation during its rise from obscurity in the 1980s to becoming the third party in the parliament of crisis-ravaged Greece earlier this decade.

That was the case pressed by lawyers of the victims of Golden Dawn’s crimes but rejected by the state prosecutor amid a national outcry earlier this year. The court has found for the victims and the lawyers acting for the anti-fascist movement. Prominent legal commentators are now raising questions about the state prosecutor’s role.

It may be days before sentencing decisions are reached. But the convictions are a fatal blow to what was once a rising star for the global far right. Among those convicted is Ilias Kasidiaris who split from Golden Dawn to launch a fascist-lite party.

Petros Constantinou of the anti-fascist coalition Keerfa explained: “This is a major strike against all those in Greece or elsewhere contemplating the fascist road.”

On one set of attacks – upon left wing trade unionists in the shipyard zone of Athens – the court convicted only upon lesser charges. But it also found two of the perpetrators guilty of membership of the criminal apparatus.

There was the same finding over the two murderers of Pakistani retail worker Shahzad Luqman from an already decided case in 2013. So these and other violent attacks, on left wing social spaces and organisations, are also directly linked to the leadership of Golden Dawn.

There is now official recognition of what anti-fascist campaigners have argued for years: that all these attacks were not random, but directed in an organised way and with the motivation of nazi ideology.

The murder of anti-racist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013 brought that home to a public that had been less aware of the attempted murder of Egyptian fisherman Abouzid Embarak 14 months earlier. The perpetrators in both cases have now been found guilty.

The victims and their families feel vindicated, as do all those who fought against this neonazi threat even as many in the official political scene dismissed it or sought to collaborate with it.

Looking out on the thousands gathered outside the court, anti-fascist lawyer Thanasis Kampagiannis said: “This is our democratic wall. They did not pass today. And they shall never pass.”