|Applause following court victory over fascists|
|Savas victory salute outside the court|
|A well deserved moment|
|Supporters greeting Savas after his victory in court|
just one day after it began, when the judge threw out all three charges against him in the lawsuit filed by the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Charges against the other defendant in the trial, Constantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of Athens' Polytechnic University, were also dismissed. [For background on the lawsuit see the press release we published on August 6, Defend Savas Michael Matsas against the Golden Dawn fascists!.] The trial attracted hundreds of demonstrators inside and outside the court house expressing their solidarity with Savas Michael and the struggle against fascism in Greece.
(Some of the posters outside the court house, reflecting the diverse political groups expressing their solidarity.)
|"The state and Golden Dawn work together. For a United Front and a workers militia. EEK"|
|"Fascists step back, comrades forward! Solidarity to Savas Michael"|
|"You cannot criminalize discourse. Students’ anti-authoritarian front."|
|"Against political persecutions and the fascist turn. KKE (M-L)."|
|"Neonazis Out. Workers United will Never be Defeated. KEERFA."|
Only three supporters of the Golden Dawn fascists dared to show their face and none of them appeared at the trial to testify. According to an eyewitness account from the court house, when Savas Michael finished giving his speech he received such a huge round of applause that the judge began to scream in a desperate attempt to restore the "dignity" of the court. No one should doubt that this is a huge victory. The trial of Savas Michael marked the first time in decades that anyone was called upon to defend themselves in a European court against charges brought on by fascists. The trial would never have gone forward without the backing of the right wing coalition government led by Antonis Samaras, the same government that administers the inhuman austerity measures imposed on the Greek working class and middle class dictated by the European troika.
Undoubtedly the publicity the trial began to receive on the international stage, all of it supportive of Savas Michael, proved embarrassing to the Greek government, exposing its corrupt judiciary system and the hollow shell that stands in for democracy in Greece. A notable example of press coverage that forced the government to change course is the remarkable account that appeared a couple of days before the trial in the Guardian. We are republishing that piece below.
We are also republishing an account of the conclusion of the trial from the French news agency, AFP.
While the dismissal of the charges against Savas Michael Matsas and Constantinos Moutzouris are undoubtedly a big setback for the Golden Dawn fascists, no one should think that the struggle against fascism in Greece can be restricted to the judicial arena. That would be a huge mistake. Rather the lessons of the trial and its aftermath should be employed as an educational tool as part of the political struggle against fascism. And that political struggle is in turn intimately tied to the struggle for a socialist alternative to the austerity measures that are crippling Greece.
Alex Steiner, Sept 5, 2013
From the Guardian:
It's absurd that Golden Dawn is being allowed to hound my friend into court
|Members of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party stand around a stage during a gathering in Athens. Photograph: YORGOS KARAHALIS/© YORGOS KARAHALIS/Reuters/Corbis|
From Agence France-Presse:
Greek judge throws out neo-Nazi party's anti-racism suit
A judge in Greece threw out Wednesday a pivotal anti-racism case brought by neo-Nazi party the Golden Dawn against individuals it accused of inciting violence against it.
The party filed the lawsuit against multiple leftist groups including prominent far-left intellectual Savvas Michail whom it accused of calling on the public to protest against "criminal organisation" the Golden Dawn in 2009.
Conservative academic Konstantinos Moutzouris, a former rector of Athens' Polytechnic University who ran with conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party elections last year, was accused of allowing an anti-fascist website to broadcast from the university.
The subsequent suit signed by party members and at least one elected deputy accused the two of "inciting violence" against the Golden Dawn and "disrupting public order".
Michail, the only person actually prosecuted in a trial which opened Tuesday and lasted one day, hailed the dismissal of the case, which judges dropped in line with recommendations from prosecutors.
"This is a victory against the neo-Nazi threat that until now has wanted to impose its own law. All of their arguments collapsed," he said.
For the Greek left and human rights groups, the case has symbolised a landmark moment in the fight against the rise of the far-right party, which first entered parliament in 2012.
A number of leftists and rights activists protested at the trial opening on Tuesday but the Golden Dawn itself kept a low profile, with only three supporters who denied any political affiliation to the party turning up.
The case focused on Michail's 2009 proclamation which ended with the statement "People don't forget, they hang fascists", a cry frequently heard in anti-racism demonstrations in Greece.
Golden Dawn claimed this was a direct threat, while the defence insisted it was only a metaphor and a frequently-used call against fascism since the fall of the 1967-1974 military junta in Greece.
"This trial is a scandal in itself, it should never have taken place," said radical left party Syriza deputy Thodoris Dritsas, who was a witness for the defence.
"It is the first time since the fall of the junta that a person has stood trial for making anti-fascist statements," Michail told AFP.
"They want to create a legal precedent in order to outlaw the anti-fascist movement," he added.
Opponents of the Golden Dawn have viewed the case as ironic for a party known for its anti-Semitic and xenophobic discourse whose members have been implicated in violent assaults against immigrants.
"The Golden Dawn can implement their violent political programme unpunished... with incredible hatred... directly leading to violence," warned the Greek League of Human Rights before the trial.
"The Nazis publish my photograph and call on people to crush the "Jewish parasite," but nobody goes after them," said Michail, who is of Jewish descent.
Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has publicly denied the Holocaust ever took place but has never been brought to justice for his statements.
Benefiting from a rise in social tensions in heavily indebted Greece, Golden Dawn was first elected to parliament last year, winning nearly seven percent of the vote and 18 seats out of an overall 300.