Jailed Greek lawmakers appear in Parliament

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Associated Press

Posted on May 7, 2014 at 8:08 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 7 at 11:06 AM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — One broke down in tears, the other raged defiantly. But two far-right Greek lawmakers brought from prison to address Parliament were unable to shield themselves from further criminal charges.

Parliament voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to lift the immunity from prosecution of Golden Dawn lawmaker Georgios Germenis, and Efstathios Boukouras — whom the Nazi-inspired party expelled this year. Both deny wrongdoing over unregistered firearms or ammunition found during searches of their homes, and claim they are being persecuted for their beliefs.

Their appearance before the parliamentary plenary session was unprecedented: Both had to be granted special dispensation, as they are among six lawmakers jailed pending trial for allegedly running a criminal organization, following a judicial crackdown on Golden Dawn after last year's murder of a left-wing musician. A party supporter has been charged with the killing.

"This will go down in history as the day an elected lawmaker appeared in Parliament led in handcuffs from prison," said Germenis, a former black metal musician. "We are political prisoners."

Boukouras, whom Golden Dawn reviles as a renegade, sobbed and stopped his address several times.

"My children ... ask me why I am in prison, and I look them in the eyes, cry and don't know what to say. ... I'm not a fascist, a Nazi; I'm a Greek patriot," he said.

Parliament also voted Wednesday to lift the immunity from prosecution of Golden Dawn lawmaker Nikolaos Michos, to face charges of arms possession, and Chryssovalandis Alexopoulos, who will face charges of running a criminal organization. Alexopoulos has left the party.

All 18 lawmakers elected on the party ticket in 2012, including jailed party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, face charges of running a criminal organization, which carry a maximum 20-year jail sentence. Anti-immigrant and anti-gay, Golden Dawn surged in popularity during Greece's financial crisis.

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