The leaders of the far-right Golden Dawn, once Greece’s third largest political party, were sentenced to prison on Wednesday for running a criminal gang linked with hate crimes during the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
Golden Dawn entered parliament for the first time in 2012 at the peak of the crisis on a fiercely anti-immigrant platform, tapping into Greeks’ anger over painful austerity measures and what many saw as a corrupt and cosy political establishment.
The court handed down 13-year jail terms to six former lawmakers, including Golden Dawn’s leader Nikos Mihaloliakos.
Other former lawmakers were sentenced to 5-7 years in prison for being members of a criminal group. The court will decide later this week if any of the sentences can be suspended.
Golden Dawn’s top figures were arrested in 2013, after the killing of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by a party supporter prompted huge protests across Greece and led to a government crackdown on the party. Police found unlicensed weapons and Nazi flags in the homes of party members.
On Wednesday, the court also imposed a life sentence and 10 year in jail to Golden Dawn member Yiorgos Roupakias for the murder of Fyssas.