By LIZ ALDERMAN
Published: October 2, 2013
NIKAIA, Greece — For over a year, 30 Kaisareias Street bustled with activity. Burly, black-clad members of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party converted part of the nondescript white building into a headquarters, holding frequent meetings and fanning out for military-style neighborhood patrols armed with batons and heavy poles wrapped in the Greek flag.
Then, last week, the group disappeared overnight. A regular in the office, Giorgos Roupakias, was accused of killing an anti-fascist activist in a crime that shocked the nation, and the government began an effort to “eradicate” the group, as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras put it.
But already, serious questions have been raised about the planning and effectiveness of the crackdown, and whether it may actually boomerang against the government and end up generating sympathy for Golden Dawn, one of Europe’s most violent far-right groups.
“If it is not handled properly, you could get a kind of a bounce back of Golden Dawn,” said George Katrougalos, a constitutional law professor at the Democritus University of Thrace. “If they appear to be victims of the establishment, that may broaden their appeal.”
Questions are already being raised about the legality, even constitutionality, of the government’s methods.
On Wednesday, in a surprise decision, a magistrate ordered three prominent Golden Dawn lawmakers, among 35 people associated with the party who were arrested in a sweep last Saturday, to be released pending trial. After more than 17 hours of testimony, one of the men, the party’s spokesman, Ilias Kasidiaris, strode from the court, called reporters “bums” and pushed photographers out of his way.
(Read the full report on The New York Times’s website: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/world/europe/golden-dawn-greece.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&)