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Published On: Fri, Oct 23rd, 2020

Greek police launch manhunt as deputy leader of Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party refuses to report to prison following landmark trial

Christos Pappas, a senior leader of Greece’s recently outlawed extreme-right Golden Dawn party, has refused to turn himself in after receiving jail time for his role in the group. A police search for the fugitive is underway.

Senior members of the party, including its former leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were each sentenced to 13 years in prison, after an appeals court ruled last week that Golden Dawn was a criminal organization linked to numerous acts of violence, including a high-profile murder. The verdict of the five-year trial was described as historic, with thousands of people rallying in the streets outside the courthouse in Athens. 

Papas was ordered to surrender to the authorities yesterday, but his lawyer, Periklis Stavrianakis, said on Friday that his client would not turn himself in. According to Stavrianakis, Papas believes his conviction will be overturned on appeal, and therefore sees no reason to begin his lengthy prison sentence. 

Police searched at least five properties linked to the ex-lawmaker but failed to locate him, state media reported. 

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Papas, whose father helped dictator Georgios Papadopoulos seize control of Greece in a military coup in 1967, has evaded arrest before. He was able to briefly avoid detention in 2013, after senior members of Golden Dawn were rounded up as part of an investigation into the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. The musician’s murder, believed to have been politically motivated, shocked Greeks and led to the 2015 trial that led to Papas’s conviction. 

Thirty-nine Golden Dawn members received sentences in the trial, with all but two currently in police custody. The other fugitive from the law is Ioannis Lagos, a member of the European parliament. Lagos lives in Brussels and is protected from prosecution by diplomatic immunity. 

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Greek police launch manhunt as deputy leader of Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party refuses to report to prison following landmark trial