ATHENS, Greece (JTA) — A prominent lawmaker from the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party implied that he is a Holocaust denier during a stormy debate in the Greek Parliament.
Speaking to parliament on Thursday, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris said that a Greek-Israeli businessman caught up in a massive tax evasion scandal refuses to testify before an investigative committee because of the presence of Holocaust deniers.
“The Jew Sabby Mionis is key to this case,” Kasidiaris said. “He won’t come to this committee because there are Holocaust deniers on it. And indeed there are Holocaust deniers on it.”
Kasidiaris was apparently referring to himself, the only Golden Dawn lawmaker on the committee.
The committee is investigating possible tax avoidance by the so-called “Lagarde list” of about 2,000 prominent Greeks who had money stashed in Swiss bank accounts.
Greek authorities want to question Mionis about an account containing some 550 million Euros ($725 million). Greek media have alleged that the account was linked to the mother of former Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Mionis has denied this, saying the account belonged to a mutual find that he managed.
Kasidiaris said they could not question Mionis because he was in Israel, to which he emigrated in 2006.
“We don’t want to go to the murderous Zionist state. If he sets foot in this country, he’ll face justice,” said Kasidiaris, who rose to international prominence during last year’s election campaign when he slapped a woman from the Communist Party in the face during a live TV broadcast.
Kasidiaris has also read from the anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the Greek Parliament.
The remarks reportedly drew strong protest from Deputy Interior Minister Haralambos Athanassiou. According to the Eleftherotypia newspaper, Athanassiou told told Kasidiaris that he could be punished for Holocaust denial under a proposed new law
Greece is currently debating a new law, aimed at combating Golden Dawn, which would impose stiff penalties for racist attacks and criminalize Holocaust denial.
Golden Dawn emerged on the political scene last year, winning 7 percent of the vote, or 18 seats, in the 300-member parliament. Recent polls have indicated the party, which runs on a fierce anti-immigrant platform, now has about 10 percent of the population’s support.
Golden Dawn has been frequently condemned by Jewish and international groups as racist and anti-Semitic.