When some seventy members of the neo-Nazi organization Golden Dawn go on trial sometime this spring, there will be more than street thugs and fascist ideologues in the dock. A tangled web of influence is likely to engulf Greece’s police, national security agency, wealthy oligarchs and mainstream political parties. While Golden Dawn—with its Holocaust denial, its swastikas and its Hitler salutes—looks like it might inhabit the fringe, in fact the organization has roots deep in the heart of Greece’s political culture.
Which is precisely what makes it so dangerous.
Golden Dawn’s penchant for violence is what led to the charge that it is a criminal organization. It is accused of several murders, as well as attacks on immigrants, leftists and trade unionists. Raids have uncovered weapon caches. Investigators have also turned up information suggesting that the organization is closely tied to wealthy shipping owners, as well as the National Intelligence Service (EYP) and municipal police departments.
Several lawyers associated with two victims of violence by party members—a 27-year-old Pakistani immigrant stabbed to death last year and an Afghan immigrant stabbed in 2011—charge that a high-level EYP official responsible for surveillance of Golden Dawn has links to the organization. The revelations forced Dimos Kouzilos, director of EYP’s third counter-intelligence division, to resign last September.
There were several warning flags about Kouzilos when he was appointed to head the intelligence division by right-wing New Democracy Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Kouzilos is a relative of a Golden Dawn Parliament member, who is the party’s connection to the shipping industry. Kouzilos is also close to a group of police officers in Nikea, who are currently under investigation for ties to Golden Dawn. Investigators charge that the Nikea police refused to take complaints from refugees and immigrants beaten by party members, and the police chief, Dimitris Giovandis, tipped off Golden Dawn about surveillance of the party.
In handing over the results of their investigation, the lawyers said, “We believe that this information provides an overview of the long-term penetration and activities of the Nazi criminal gang with the EYP and the police.” A report by the Office of Internal Investigation documents 130 cases in which Golden Dawn worked with police.