Greece arrests neo-Nazi party chief

AFP-JIJI

Greek police arrested the leader of the Golden Dawn neo-Nazi party Saturday and hunted for dozens of its members as part of a crackdown launched after the murder of a leftist musician.

Nikos Michaloliakos was arrested along with party spokesman and lawmaker Ilias Kassidiairis, and two other group members, on charges of belonging to a “criminal organization,” a police source said. Arrest warrants were also issued for at least five other Golden Dawn lawmakers and dozens of members, the source said.

The arrests came a day after Golden Dawn threatened to pull its 18 lawmakers out of parliament in the recession-hit country, where the government is struggling to implement painful public sector reforms in return for international bailout funds.

Golden Dawn, which saw lawmakers elected to parliament for the first time in 2012 on the back of widespread anger over austerity measures, is facing a crackdown after the fatal stabbing of a popular hip-hop musician on Sept. 18.

The death of anti-fascist Pavlos Fyssas, 34, allegedly by a self-confessed neo-Nazi, sparked nationwide protests and led the government to launch a crackdown on the group whose members are suspected of attacking immigrants and political rivals.