The leadership of the Greek right-wing and racist Golden Dawn party must go to prison and serve time for running a criminal organization, an Athens court ruled on Thursday, dismissing a motion to set the defendants free until an appeal verdict.
The leader of the party, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, was imprisoned for 13 years, six other senior members for between 10 and 13 years, and 11 of the party's former lawmakers for between five and seven years
One party supporter was sentenced to life imprisonment after he confessed to stabbing to death a left-wing rapper in 2013. Another 15 party members were sentenced to prison terms of between six and seven years for complicity in this act.
The court suspended the sentences of 12 of the 51 defendants found guilty.
Michaloliakos showed no remorse in a statement to reporters waiting in front of his home. "I am proud to be sent to prison for my ideas," he said and thanked "hundreds of thousands of Greeks who stood by Golden Dawn against a dirty junta."
Thugs against migrants
Last week the court found the Golden Dawn leadership guilty of operating the party as a criminal organization and ordering thugs to attack left-wing activists, migrants and other perceived foes.
Golden Dawn sat in parliament in Athens for years, and during Greece's severe financial crisis it temporarily rose to become the third-strongest force there.
In the 2019 election it failed to pass the 3% hurdle to enter parliament and has not been represented in the Athens chamber since then.