By Yiannis Baboulias
Trial for right-wing Golden Dawn leaders accused of killing opponents gets under way after nearly two years of delays.
Thanassis Kabayiannis is confident the end is near for the controversial right-wing political party that has made inglorious headlines since entering the Greek parliament with 18 members of parliament in 2012.
Kabayiannis is one of the prosecution lawyers in the trials of the Golden Dawn party that finally starts on Thursday after numerous delays.
“The case is airtight and it will show in court,” Kabayiannis told Al Jazeera. “Not only the casework itself, but the real incidents themselves offer indisputable evidence.
Supporters of Greece’s extreme-right party Golden Dawn during a rally in Athens [AP]
“This is why the Golden Dawn’s lawyers themselves never dismiss the actual case, but are trying to delay it with legal tricks.”
Nineteen months after Giorgos Roupakias – a member of the Golden Dawn’s Nikaia charter – was accused of killing anti-fascist musician Pavlos Fyssas, the trial finally begins.
The case is considered by many in Greece as the trial of the century.
Golden Dawn has said it had no involvement in Fyssas murder. Members and supporters also say the prosecutions are politically motivated – an attempt to neutralise Greece’s third most popular party.
In the crackdown that followed Fyssas’ killing, the leadership of the party was placed in pre-trial detention and 69 Golden Dawn members were charged with forming a criminal organisation.
Aside from the murder of Fyssas, the case file includes the killing of 27-year-old Pakistani migrant worker Sahzat Lukman, attacks on Egyptian fishermen and a group of Greek leftists, guns and explosives possession, and human trafficking.
Prosecutors say Golden Dawn members turned informants spoke of paramilitary training with weapons taking place in the Greek countryside, and “storm detachments” attacking immigrants under the direct supervision of the leadership.
Other testimonies suggest under the table funding by business interests, and the renting out of thugs to employers who used them to intimidate immigrant workers.
Intercepted phone calls and text messages also revealed the strict structure the party operated under, a crucial element on which the prosecution has built its case, Kabayiannis said.
“There were militarised groups in the centre of every charter that carried out criminal actions outside the party,” said Kabayiannis.
“They used weaponry, radios, all these things that make them a highly organised, hierarchical paramilitary organisation. All these things will be revealed fully during the hearings.”
The leadership of the party was released from pre-trial detention after the 18-month maximum period expired.
While the case is finally starting, critics say there are problems with the way the trial will be conducted.
A special room inside a maximum security prison in the Athens suburb of Piraeus will be the venue for the next 18 to 24 months.
“We need the trial to be held in conditions of maximum publicity, attendance and security, where the witnesses will feel comfortable, not intimidated,” said Kabayiannis.
Stavros Kasimatis, the popular mayor of Korydalos, also objected to the trials being held inside the prison.
“This is the trial of the century, the decision to hold it there doesn’t make sense,” Kasimatis said. “The area is politically charged. The prison itself is less than one kilometre from where Pavlos Fyssas was murdered and very close to where both the Egyptian fishermen … were attacked.”
Demonstrations are planned outside of the prison with anti-fascist organisations and Golden Dawn announcing protests, which heightens the chance of violent confrontations.
A Golden Dawn representative declined to comment, but pointed out that one of its lawyers, Yiannis Pagouropoulos, had been attacked.
“What is ironic is that while they seek to condemn us without a shred of evidence, as instigators of violence, it’s them who exact violence against the third biggest political force in the country,” Golden Dawn said in a statement issued on Wednesday.