Three Golden Dawn politicians freed on bail, one remanded

Wednesday 02 October 2013 19.26
Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was released on €50,000 bail
Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was released on €50,000 bail

Three senior politicians from Greece's far-right Golden Dawn have been freed pending trial on criminal charges.

It was an unexpected setback to the government's efforts to clamp down on a party it has labelled a neo-Nazi criminal gang.

The decision to free the men after an 18-hour court session raises questions about the solidity of the state's case against Golden Dawn after one of its sympathisers stabbed to death an anti-fascism rapper.

Party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris and fellow politicians Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos stormed out of the court to cheers of "bravo" from supporters.

They kicked and shoved journalists out of the way before hailing a taxi.

"We will not back down!" Mr Michos shouted. "You can only stop us with bullets. Even from the grave, we will rise up – know this well!"

Golden Dawn rose from being a fringe party to win 18 seats in parliament in last year's election.

It has drawn on anger over the debt crisis, budget cuts, high unemployment and corruption to become what opinion polls indicate is Greece's third most popular party.

However, it has lost about a third of its support since the killing.

Mr Kasidiaris was released on bail of €50,000 and all three were ordered not to leave Greece.

A fourth Golden Dawn politician legislator, Yannis Lagos, was ordered to be kept in detention. All four denied the charges.

The men were arrested on Saturday alongside party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos.

They have been charged on what prosecutors say is evidence linking the party with a string of attacks, including the stabbing of rapper Pavlos Fissas on 17 September.