A GREEK lawmaker sought by police surrendered yesterday, bringing to six the number of legislators from the extreme-right Golden Dawn party now in custody and accused of being members of a criminal organisation with intent to commit crimes.
The government crackdown on the fiercely anti-immigrant party marks the first time since 1974 that sitting members of a Greek Parliament have been arrested.
The arrests underline the government’s efforts to stifle Golden Dawn, which has been increasingly on the defensive since the September 17 fatal stabbing of a Greek man blamed on a Golden Dawn supporter.
Thirteen Golden Dawn members and two police officers also have been taken into custody and arrest warrants issued for 11 other suspects who remain at large, officials said.
As he turned himself in at police headquarters in Athens on Sunday, Christos Pappas, a lawmaker described by prosecutors as the Golden Dawn’s No 2 official, condemned the crackdown on his party and the painful austerity measures that have been imposed during the bailout of Greece’s battered economy.
Several Greek TV channels broadcast his arrival live, showing him leaving a taxi, ducking under the cordon surrounding the building and turning to the cameras.
“I present myself voluntarily. I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear. The occupation government of the bailout deals has begun unprecedented political persecutions, using so-called independent justice. Nationalism will prevail. Golden Dawn will survive,” he said.
Five other legislators from the party have been in custody there since Saturday, including Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos.