Greek PM’s aide resigns over remarks to Golden Dawn member


The Irish times

Secret video shows Panayiotis Baltakos saying crackdown on party was politically motivated

Panagiotis Baltakos: said he had “frequent coincidental meetings” with Golden Dawn MPs because their parliamentary offices were next to his.

Greece’s most senior government official and a key aide of its prime minister was forced to resign yesterday after a video emerged showing him suggest to a leading member of Golden Dawn that the crackdown on the neo-Nazi party was politically motivated.

In the video, which appears to have been recorded secretly some months ago, cabinet secretary Panayiotis Baltakos is seen telling Ilias Kasidiaris, Golden Dawn’s spokesman, that prime minister Antonis Samaras decided to move against the extremist party to stop it taking support from his conservative New Democracy party and sapping its position over the leftist opposition.

When asked by Mr Kasidiaris “Who told him [Samaras] to do all this?” Mr Baltakos replied: “First of all, he’s afraid for himself. Because you are cutting his lead over Syriza.”

‘Pagans, idolaters, Nazis’
Mr Baltakos also claimed that because “the investigating magistrate had no evidence” against Golden Dawn MPs following the fatal stabbing of a prominent musician by a party supporter last September, the justice and interior ministers had appealed to the devout religious feelings of the supreme court chief prosecutor to convince her to move against Golden Dawn on the basis that they were “pagans, idolaters, Nazis and opposed to Christianity”.

The two ministers subsequently issued statements strongly rejecting the allegations that they had influenced the judiciary.

Mr Kasidiaris made the existence of the video known after MPs voted to lift his immunity on charges of membership of a criminal organisation and illegal possession of arms and explosives. Upon hearing the news, Mr Baltakos’ son, a serving coastguard, went to parliament, where Golden Dawn claimed he physically and verbally assaulted three of its MPs.

Arrested in the first sweep against the party, Mr Kasidiaris was subsequently released, a move that left Mr Samaras livid, according to Mr Baltakos, because the previous day he had vowed, at a meeting with the American Jewish Congress in New York, that he would eliminate the party. Six Golden Dawn MPs, including its leader, are on remand awaiting trial.

‘Coincidental meetings’
Announcing his resignation hours after the video was released, Mr Baltakos said he had “frequent coincidental meetings” with Golden Dawn MPs because their parliamentary offices were next to his. Apologising for his comments, he claimed they were designed to “relieve pressure” from Golden Dawn MPs who had repeatedly accused him of plotting against them.

Identified with the most right-wing platform within New Democracy, which also includes Mr Samaras, Mr Baltakos was known for his opposition to any moves against Golden Dawn.

According to a detailed Wall Street Journal report last December, Mr Baltakos feared a crackdown “would backfire, winning the party sympathy from voters disgusted with the establishment and alienating conservative constituencies such as the army and church”.


Αφήστε μια απάντηση

Η ηλ. διεύθυνση σας δεν δημοσιεύεται. Τα υποχρεωτικά πεδία σημειώνονται με *