(JTA) – Greek Jews celebrated a court decision to outlaw the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, calling it a “landmark” ruling that protects democracy.
The ruling on Wednesday by the Athens Court of Appeals convicted seven of the party’s former lawmakers, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, of leading a criminal organization, a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years, the Associated Press reported. The remaining 51 defendants were convicted of belonging to a criminal enterprise.
The court decision caps a trial that began in 2015 with prosecutors arguing that Golden Dawn leaders were criminally responsible for the fatal stabbing of rap singer Pavlos Fyssas by a party supporter. Other cases supporting the prosecution were assaults on immigrants and left-wing activists.
Leaders of Golden Dawn, which uses a Swastika-themed symbol, have a history of Holocaust denial and incitement against Jews.
“The landmark ruling of the Greek court that criminalizes this neo-Nazi entity shields the republic of our country,” the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece said Wednesday. “It reaffirms an important truth: Neo-Nazi organizations that weaponize patriotism are dangerous and spread hatred.”
European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor expressed hope that other countries would take similar steps to outlaw neo-Nazi parties.