European Parliament lifts immunity of far-right Greek legislator
BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union lawmakers voted on Tuesday to lift the immunity of a far-right Greek member of the European Parliament who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in Greece for being a leading member of the ‘a criminal organization.
The European Parliament voted 658 to 24, with 10 abstentions, to remove the parliamentary protection of Ioannis Lagos, paving the way for the Belgian authorities to extradite him to Greece.
Lagos has lived in Brussels, the Belgian capital, since a Greek court sentenced him in October, along with 17 other former Greek parliamentarians from the far-right Golden Dawn party, for leading or being a member of a criminal organization.
The other convicted members of Golden Dawn are already in jail, except for one who has escaped and is officially a fugitive.
French Greens lawmaker Marie Toussaint, who guided the vote through Parliament, said “it was essential that the European Union lift Ioannis Lagos’ immunity so that he can face justice in his country”.
“Impunity cannot be tolerated,” Toussaint said in a statement, and she warned more broadly of the dangers of hate speech in Europe and the violence it causes.
Greek government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni, when asked about the lifting of Lagos’ immunity, said “all steps have been taken to ensure that the European arrest warrant” is issued promptly for the member of the European Parliament .
Golden Dawn was founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s. It gained popularity during the 2010-2018 financial crisis, gaining parliamentary representation between 2012 and 2019.
The five-year trial was launched following the 2013 murder of rap singer and left-wing activist Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter.