Europe

Far-right MEP facing jail after colleagues vote to remove his immunity

A member of the Greek far-right group Golden Dawn is facing jail after MEPs voted to lift his immunity.

Ioannis Lagos was among dozens of party members sentenced to prison in Greece in October last year, but as an elected MEP in the European Parliament, he had parliamentary protection.

Lagos, 48, has been living in Brussels since his conviction, which saw him sentenced to 13 years in prison.

He was among 18 former Greek parliament members to be convicted of leading — or being members of — a criminal organisation.

The European Parliament voted 658-24, with 10 abstentions, to remove Lagos’s protection, paving the way for Belgian authorities to extradite him to Greece.

MEPs had called for his immunity to be removed at the time he was sentenced in Greece, but it can be a lengthy process.

Golden Dawn leaders jailed

Golden Dawn was founded as a Neo-Nazi group in the 1980s. It saw a surge in popularity during the 2010-2018 financial crisis, gaining parliamentary representation between 2012 and 2019.

The convictions came following a five-year trial, which was launched following the murder of left-wing activist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013. He was killed by a supporter of Golden Dawn.

Thirty-seven of the 39 convicted turned themselves into police in October last year.

Lagos stayed away from Greece and claimed his parliamentary immunity to avoid going to prison, but he now faces extradition from Belgium back to Greece.

A former security guard, Lagos was the local leader of Golden Dawn in the area where Pavlos Fyssas was killed. “Nothing would have been done without Lagos’ approval,” the victim’s mother said at the trial.

“I’m not going back to Greece in the next few days,” Ioannis Lagos said on Twitter on Monday, without elaborating, reacting to the vote. He also said he would remain “strong and free”.

Authorities are still hunting for one leading member of the party, who fled following his conviction.

Christos Pappas is officially considered a fugitive.

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