The Public Order Ministry was locked in a dispute with neofascist Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) on Monday following a decision to revoke the party’s right to be assigned state-appointed body guards, after a spate of assaults on migrants, and a police crackdown outside the party’s offices prompted Golden Dawn to take legal action.
Early on Monday, the police issued a statement that the officers granted to Golden Dawn’s 18 MPs for protection, in line with Greek law, would be relieved of their duties to prevent the guards from facing a conflict of duty between protecting the lawmakers and stopping them from breaking the law. The statement noted that guards would continue to protect party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and Golden Dawn’s offices.
Later in the day, in an apparent attempt to underscore the authority of the police force, officers were dispatched to stand outside the party’s headquarters near the capital’s Larissis railway station, stopping visitors to check their ID cards.
The party quickly condemned the initiative as a “violation of the Constitution” and took out an injunction against Police Chief Nikos Papagiannopoulos.
Meanwhile Supreme Court prosecutor Yiannis Tentes called on prosecutors in Rafina, northeast of Athens, and Mesolongi, in the Peloponnese, to conduct speedy investigations into the raids on migrant street stalls in those towns. The police chief who had been on duty at Rafina’s main police precinct on Friday night when dozens of men wearing black T-shirts adorned with the Golden Dawn logo smashed down migrant kiosks has been suspended. And authorities are to forward to Parliament a case file regarding two Golden Dawn MPs linked to the Rafina raid.
In a related development, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern about a spike in “violent xenophobic attacks against migrants, refugees and asylum seekers” in Greece and reports of the police’s inability to tackle the problem.