The verdict is a result of the relentless pressure from the anti-fascist movement. Without it the fascists would have escaped any sort of justice.
Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the court in Athens as judges prepared to give their verdict after the five and half year trial of 68 Nazis. The crowd erupted in cheers when it was read, celebrating the huge victory for the anti-fascist movement that has repelled the party’s rise.
Petros Constantinou from Greek anti-fascist organisation Keerfa said, “This is a very good day for the anti-fascist movement globally.
“The decision will send a very important message to the far right in Europe.”
The 68 Nazis faced multiple charges in the largest trial of fascist criminals since Nazi Germany’s leadership was tried in 1946.
It saw a number of cases rolled into one, including the murder and assault of anti-fascists, migrants and trade unionists.
Seven former Golden Dawn MPs—including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos—were found guilty of leading a criminal organisation and other defendants were found guilty of participating in one.
They face at least ten years behind bars.
Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias was found guilty of the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas. He was stabbed twice in the heart and once in the thigh in the port of Piraeus on 18 September 2013.
A further nine Nazis were found guilty—and two not guilty—in other charges relating to the murder of Fyssas.
All three defendants were found guilty of the attempted murder of Abuzid Embarak and three other Egyptian fishermen. Golden Dawn members raided the migrant workers’ home and brutally attacked Embarak and the others on 12 June 2012.
Another group of defendants was found guilty on charges relating to a brutal attack on members of Communist Party of Greece and its PAME trade union. The court changed the charges from attempted murder to grievous bodily harm.
After the verdict, the court began looking at mitigating factors before sentencing can take place.
Golden Dawn rapidly grew after the financial crisis and austerity devastated Greece. It made parliamentary advances and carried out violent attacks on the streets on its opponents and migrants.
The murder of Fyssas was a major turning point, which saw opposition to the Nazi threat grow.
A number of party members—including Michaloliakos—were arrested in the weeks that followed. Some 69 members—including 18 who were then Golden Dawn MPs—went on trial two years later.
One defendant died after the trial started.
The victory in the trial was not inevitable—it was won by the anti-fascist movement turning the tide on Golden Dawn.
For a long period the government offered what socialist Panos Garganas called "all kinds of protection for the fascist gang".
Petros added that the movement in Greece would have to keep up the fight as their right wing government fuels racism against refugees and migrants. “That they are now outside the parliament does not mean that the fascist threat is over,” he said.
The verdict is a boost to anti-fascists everywhere fighting against the rise of fascist and far right forces.