Day 199: whoever they came across that didn’t look like a Greek, based on the color of his skin, they knocked him down

199th Hearing, Women’s Wing, Korydallos Prison, November 13th, 2017

I. Access to the Court

The courtroom remains open to the public upon presentation of a state ID card, which is retained by court authorities for the duration of the session, until all audience seats in the courtroom are filled. There was the usual number of police officers in the courtroom, and reduced attendance by members of the press and the public.

II. Presence of defendants

None of the defendants was present at the hearing.

III. Testimony of protected witness C

A. Examination of the witness by the court

The officer of the court and the officer of the state prosecutor’s office confirmed that the room contains just them and protected witness B, that the door is closed, and that the witness has no documents in front of him apart from a Bible. The witness took an oath on the Bible and responded to the questions by the presiding judge, the state prosecutor, and the assistant state prosecutor. There was a slight delay due to technical difficulties, and a half-hour recess because of water coming into the courtroom, due to the heavy rainfall outside.

The witness commenced his testimony by saying that he first came into contact with Golden Dawn in 2006, when he was 16 years old, through Kimonas Papadopoulos, who, after a few conversations, took him to the offices in Sokratous street, where the headquarters had been back then. There he met Kasidiaris, Germenis, and Lagos, who left him out of their discussions because of his age, but he was present for some of them. Given the contact he had with Papadopoulos, he went to the offices 2-3 times per week, where they participated in discussions and ideological lessons about Nazism and Hitler. These classes were given usually by Michaloliakos, Kasidiaris, Develekos, and others. Back then Golden Dawn was a “closed club”, so the ideological lessons were open to everyone. The discussions were attended by 25-30 people, very few of them near his age. These lessons contained texts by Hitler and “Immigrant crime bulletins”, a regular update on crimes perpetrated by immigrants on Greeks especially in Attica, in order to foment the belief that the immigrants are dangerous. The membership card they had given him read “member” and had his name on it, while the new ones read “supporter”. The difference, according to the witness, is the level of responsibility of the leadership in the event of a crime by a member. He was made a member when he turned 18 in 2009, and the membership card was issued from headquarters, since he was a member there up until 2012.

The witness did not participate in attacks carried out by Golden Dawn until 2009 because he was a minor, apart from a few when groups of 2-3 persons took him with them as he was growing older. The witness described these attacks by saying that Zervas or Germenis took him with them and went to the area around Menandrou Street, and searched until they found a lone immigrant, and beat him up with brass knuckles that they had either bought or had them stashed in the office. There had been more than 20 similar incidents in the period 2006-2009 and recalling a particular one, the witness said: “This one night, me, Plapoutas, Kasidiaris, Zervas, and Kimonas went to Metaxourgeio and near the square we found an immigrant, probably a Pakistani, we went near him and I punched him in the face wearing my brass knuckles. That was my first time. The others laughed and told me ‘Well done boy, you’re really coming into your own’…” The witness also stated that he had participated in the rallies in Meligalas, in Thermopylae, and in Vitsi.

Concerning the training, the witness stated that before he became an adult, he was trained one-on-one either in a gym club or in the countryside and they taught him how to strike someone with specific martial arts moves. This gym club was a few streets over Acharnon Avenue, near Pipinou, and the training sessions took place in an empty room of the gym. His trainers were Germenis along with a few others that went to Hymettus or Chaidari for gym training. Concerning the Centaur program, the witness testified that it was a program with a few speeches, emancipation, ideological lessons, and indoctrination by Kasidiaris 2-3 times a week. During the ideological lessons Kasidiaris would talk to them about Hitler, the famed “seed of the vanquished”, and they also had a slogan, “Don’t cry in your grave Rudolf Hess, we will raise up once more the SS!”.

The witness turned 18 and after completing his army service in 2011, he was put in a harder regimen – they trained over the weekends, they learned methods of self-defense and attack similar to the ones taught to riot policemen. These training sessions were also lead by Germenis, and later Patelis, Zervas, Develekos, and Kasidiaris would simulate knife moves. He also mentioned that they were also trained with other objects such as marine flares which were brought in by Panagiotaros who knew where to procure them, since he had been involved with football fan clubs. He also mentioned that they trained with smoke bombs, how to harm someone without burning yourself, and also said that they had handguns. One of the people who carried handguns was a policeman, nicknamed “Chalastras” who came with his service weapon and baton and participated in the training. The witness stated that he didn’t shoot with the policeman’s weapon but with a Colt .45, and they also taught him how to shoot directly for the heart.

According to the witness some of the weapons were Kasidiaris’ and others were Patelis’ and that the weapons training took place in Chaidari near the shooting range so that their volleys would not raise suspicion. The witness recalls the following people in the training with him: Tsakanikas, members from the Ano Liosia chapter, from Aspropyrgos, Piraeus, Georgie Abushellam, Michos, Spyros, the Frog, as well as Roupakias who came as a trainee and soon became a trainer.

Responding to a relevant question the witness stated that he had taken part in attacks that had been decided by other local chapters, and mentioned an incident at the end of July 2015, when about 15 people went to a house indicated by Patelis to beat up the residents. It had been agreed between Patelis and some of the 5-member committee – Spyros, Kostas the Frog, Roupakias, Tsakanikas, and they were told to hit anyone they found there. To do harm and to leave, that was the correct procedure, according to the witness. The attack took place at a house in Nikaia, near the church of Agios Nikolaos, and about 15 people participated. They left with motorbikes they had left near the target, the house had an old metal door that they opened easily, they beat those inside and then left. They started spraying with a fire extinguisher to make the air inside unbearable, they caught them unawares, they took out the expandable batons, and he doesn’t know if they stabbed anyone.

The witness said that the orders were given by Patelis, but Lagos had to be informed if anything was to go forward. When asked if anyone pressed charges, the witness said that most people were afraid. According to the witness, the attacks were carried out for very specific reasons, and had nothing to do with personal differences, they were carried out because someone had immigrant neighbors and didn’t like it, or because the targets were enemies of Golden Dawn, or for a show of strength.

The witness stressed that Lagos and Kasidiaris had full knowledge of what went on in that area, and that they did nothing without a go-ahead from Michaloliakos himself. The witness knows about this from conversations he had with Lagos in the closed cells. The closed cells was a group that started with 10 people and then a few people were added, and they were those that knew everything – about the attacks and the future actions. He had been a member of the closed cells since June 2012, when the new offices were inaugurated, but enjoyed a limited access even before that. Every local chapter had its own closed cell, attended by Lagos himself who was informed by Patelis, and the witness had overheard a phone call where Patelis asked Lagos whether they would attack some people who were putting up posters. This tactic, according to the witness, was part of the chain of command. Patelis notified Lagos, Lagos notified Kasidiaris, and Kasidiaris notified the Leader.

The witness stated that he became a member and received training, “body improvement”, ideological seminars, and swore allegiance to the Leader unto death. He also stated that he had participated in an attack on a gas station in Nikaia in 2012, which employed immigrants, along with Tsakanikas, Papavasileiou, Spyros, the Frog, and they took their orders from Patelis. Their goal was to intimidate them and told the owner of the gas station “Fire these Pakistanis because we’ll fuck you up”. Concerning the attack on the Egyptian fishermen he said that he hadn’t participated but he heard from “Tasaras”, the secretary of the Perama chapter, that they had “fucked them good”. The witness stated that he had taken part in an attack on a gas station somewhere in Eastern Attica where they went to beat up the employees, that the Golden Dawners believed that they had immunity, that no one could touch them. The witness went on to describe another incident which took place between the 9th and 12th of December 2012 and involved a food delivery employee near Amerikis Square. The witness had hit him himself, and he was with Papavasileiou, who then stabbed the victim in the leg before the two of them ran away.

The witness noted that that’s how they had been taught – others went for a coffee, but Golden Dawners went for a “walk”, and meant that they were going to find an immigrant to intimidate or beat up. The witness added that at the time things in Athens were very intense, since, as he said, there was a concerned citizens movement orchestrated by Golden Dawn, aiming to harass, to intimidate, and finally to drive off the immigrants. According to the witness, it was well known that the cleaning up of immigrants from the center of Athens, as well as the concerned citizens, were both led by Golden Dawn.

Concerning the clothes they wore for the attacks, the witness stated that they wore black shirts, the notorious black shirts emblazoned with the words “Golden Dawn” and on the back they show the local chapter, camo pants, jockey cap, and army boots. These shirts were also worn in some motorbike rallies they did as a show of strength, in some events in Meligalas and Thermopylae, and in the offices. When asked about other attacks he had participated in, the witness answered that he had taken part in the attacks on immigrants after the murder of Kandaris, when Kasidiaris, with Lagos, Panagiotaros and Develekos present, had told them: “Let’s go fuck them up, let’s go and kill them”.

These attacks were carried out by at least 30 people from the offices, they went on foot, and the witness followed Germenis who probably got his orders from Kasidiaris. The witness stated that during those attacks they took to the streets and whoever they came across that didn’t look like a Greek, based on the color of his skin, they knocked him down with batons, brass knuckles or paralyzer. The order given by Germenis was “Get moving boys, whatever moves gets slaughtered – we hit, we run”. The witness added that they went, either alone or with other members of the local chapter, to the shops of immigrants from East Asia selling mobile phones, mobile accessories, clothes or produce, to check them out and then they reported back – at first to Germenis up to 2012, who was in Nikaia at the time, and then to Patelis who got his orders from Lagos. The witness went on to speak about Abushelam, who took some people with him at nights and beat up lots of people.

Responding to a relevant question, the witness stated that some MPs were meeting with cell leaders in remote places to plan certain attacks, the food handouts, and talk about their targets. This information he got from Patelis himself.
Concerning Periandros, the witness stated that when Periandros got out of jail, around 2010-2011, he [the witness] had been present in a conversation among 15 people who were saying that Periandros had to be “cleaned up”. At this conversation it was Michaloliakos who said that Periandros was a snitch and that they had to kill him because he is an enemy of Golden Dawn, but according to the witness this was all according to a specific plan, because it was well known, as he said, that Periandros didn’t carry out alone the attack in Evelpidon Street, but had been assisted by persons that today are Golden Dawn MPs. Periandros took it all upon himself and when he got out of jail he said that if he opens his mouth lots of [Golden Dawn] MPs will end up in prison. This was what caused fear in the ranks of Golden Dawn.

Furthermore, the witness stated that there were times they enjoyed the protection of the police, which means that they knew when the police would intervene and when they wouldn’t, and that in Nikaia Patelis talked with a certain young woman, a police lieutenant, whose surname he vaguely recalls, and that she was the one who gave information and a certain cover to Giorgos Patelis. Concerning Pappas, the witness stated that he participated in the Golden Dawn speeches and made ideological interventions about Hitler and the German army, and incited violence towards immigrants, saying “Fuck them up, slaughter them, we are Golden Dawn”.

Concerning the death of Pavlos Fyssas, the witness stated that a while before that he had started objecting to the tactics of Golden Dawn and that the murder was the reason of his leaving the organization – more specifically, the image of Fyssas’ mother who lost her son, and to whom he also wanted to apologize. The witness thought nothing of the ideological differences he had with Fyssas, but he was bothered by the fact that Fyssas was Greek and a young man. The witness also mentioned that Fyssas had been a target for 3-4 months, and the reason they gave them in Golden Dawn was that Pavlos and some of his friends had targeted some people in Golden Dawn. The witness first heard it from Patelis and Roupakias. It was in during a conversation the witness had with Kazantzoglou, Patelis, Tsakanikas, and Roupakias. The witness stated that he would never harm a Greek and that during the conversation with Patelis and Roupakias he had expressed his objection and told them not to mess with their own [Greeks] and in Nikaia at that. After the murder of Fyssas, the witness quietly left the ranks without telling anyone, and made sure that he covered his tracks, he moved, he changed his phone number, and tried to lay low so that he wouldn’t end the same way as Fyssas, as he said.

Concerning Papavasileiou, the witness stated that they used to hang out since Nikaia, that he participated in beatings and that he was dealing cocaine. He knows this because Papavasileiou himself had asked him if he wanted to buy some, and he wasn’t the only one he had asked. He also added that Papavasileiou told him that Tsakanikas did the same but he wasn’t sure. Responding to a relevant question, the witness explained that he said that Germenis had taught him to kill because when someone teaches you to go for the kidneys, he teaches you to kill.

Concerning Roupakias, the witness stated that he knows him very well and that when Roupakias showed up in the local chapter he was a hardworking, family man trying to earn his daily bread, and inside of 6 months he changed completely. He turned from a quiet man that went to the food charities, to a commander. Patelis had given him various tasks to perform, such as check what the Nikaia members posted in social media, their conduct etc.

Concerning the memorandum of association, the witness stated that he has seen photocopies of it in the Sokratous offices in 2008, and that Germenis had showed to him after a talk they had about how Germenis got where he was. The witness also said that what truly sets Golden Dawn apart is its strict hierarchy, since nothing gets done without the Leader’s approval. As for body improvement, the witness said that this is a military term and that Golden Dawn has enhanced it to include gymnastics and sports, as well as learning to strike with batons.

Concerning the recruitment of new members, he said that up until 2009 it was difficult to get in, but after 2012 the chapters became more open. The gym club that hosted the trainings was owned by a Pontiot who was a bodybuilding trainer.

Concerning the attacks on immigrants, he said that they didn’t care who it was as long as they had dark skin. The attacks were always done at night and their aim was either to intimidate or to stab them. Concerning the assault squads, he said that they were groups of 12-15 people who had a motorbike of some sort and who knew during the week that they could be called for an attack. They carried flagpoles, they were obliged to keep in shape, to be able to hit people and also to withstand pain, and generally to not be very emotional. The witness stated that after he gave his testimony he heard from some friends that some people went to ask about him in his previous home, and ten days after the testimony his parents’ house was broken into and they stole personal documents, for which he has pressed charges against persons unknown.

The witness stated that he is a student and that Roupakias knew Fyssas by sight, because they got on youtube, searched Fyssas, and he was everywhere, there was even an interview in the “Zougla” TV show. Responding to a question by the assistant state prosecutor concerning where he would place Golden Dawn in the political spectrum, the witness said “With my hand on the Bible, it is nationalist socialist through and through. Everything from 2012 and later were just for show since we had to deny that we were Nazis in order to attract more votes. We said ‘we don’t know, we couldn’t say, those were the years of our youth’. Among us we said ‘Heil Hitler’, ‘The Junta wasn’t a Junta, it was a revolution’, ‘We are the seed of the vanquished’, the Rudolf Hess slogan, ‘We’ll sharpen the bayonets on the sidewalks’… No one could call us the most democratic of people.”