Golden Dawn: Three MPs from Greece's extremist right-wing party freed

 

Three MPs from Greece's extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party have been freed from custody pending trial in criminal investigation triggered by the murder of a left-wing rapper.

Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was released on a €50,000 bail and a ban on leaving the country. No bail was set for the other two, who were also banned from leaving the country.

A fourth, Ioannis Lagos, was jailed pending trial. The head of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, who is also detained, was to appear before an investigative magistrate later, while a sixth is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

"This essentially changes nothing. There charges stand, the investigation is ongoing and the evidence is being gathered," Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis said. "We are at the first stage of this investigation."

Golden Dawn's leadership was arrested over the weekend in a crackdown sparked by last month's stabbing death of 34-year-old left-wing rapper Pavlos Fyssas. All face charges of setting up or participating in a criminal organisation.

A total of 32 arrest warrants were issued in the case, including two for police officers. Authorities have been continuing raids on the homes of police officers with suspected ties to criminal activities linked to the party.

Golden Dawn, a Nazi-inspired party which rose from the margins of Greece's political scene to become the third most popular amid the country's severe financial crisis, has long been blamed for a series of violent attacks, most against immigrants.

Rights groups have warned of an increase in the viciousness and frequency of attacks attributed to party members or supporters. But the death of Mr Fyssas last month was the most serious crime attributed directly to an alleged party member.

The man arrested at the scene of the stabbing identified himself to police as a member of Golden Dawn. The party has denied it had anything to do with the killing.

AP

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