ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Lawyers representing Greece’s extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party demanded a change of venue Friday for security reasons after party leaders and members on trial were threatened by suspected members of a leftist group being led to another courtroom.
Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and party lawmakers are among 69 defendants accused of running a criminal organization in the closely watched case held in a special courtroom in the country’s largest prison, Korydallos.
A separate case against suspected members of the left-wing Nucleii of Fire group, which is accused of several bombings, is also being heard at the prison.
Nucleii suspects heading to their own courtroom managed to open the Golden Dawn courtroom door and threatened the defendants, trying to enter the room and throwing a bottle before police intervened.
Golden Dawn lawyers refused to participate in any further court proceedings Friday and demanded the trial be moved to another location. The trial, which is expected to take more than a year, was adjourned until June 4.
First appearing as a fringe neo-Nazi organization in the mid-1980s, Golden Dawn morphed from a marginal far-right group into the country’s third most popular party during Greece’s five-year financial crisis. It won 6.28 percent of the vote in a general election three months ago, despite having its state campaign funding axed.
But Golden Dawn has been blamed in a series of violent attacks against immigrants and left-wing opponents, including the stabbing death of rap singer Pavlos Fyssas last year.
Michaloliakos, a 57-year-old anti-immigrant firebrand, and 12 other members of parliament each face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
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