Ioannis Lagos faces up to 15 years in prison for participating in the recently criminalized fascist party.

A Member of the European Parliament appeared in court in Greece after being convicted last week of being a leading member of a criminal organization alongside members of the far-right Golden Dawn party.

Ioannis Lagos, who has been in prison for up to 15 years, traveled from Brussels to Athens on Monday to attend the trial. He formally moved to replace the three judges examining the case.

“I believe that there is a prevailing bias against the accused and that the judges involved in the case were directly and indirectly pressured by the political establishment,” Lagos told the court.

Lagos and 17 other former Greek MPs from Golden Dawn were convicted last week of running a criminal group or simply being a member of an organization and sentenced to between five and 15 years in prison.

Dozens of other Golden Dawn members and employees have also been convicted of a wide range of crimes, from murder and assault against immigrants to perjury.

Presiding Judge Maria Lepenioti said four former lawmakers and ten other convicted members would be granted extenuating conditions based on age, expressions of remorse and lack of previous convictions. Forbearance was not recognized for Lagos or six other former MPs who were seen as leaders of the organization.

Golden Dawn – which was founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s – saw a surge in popularity during the recent financial crisis and was represented in parliament between 2012 and 2019.

The five-year trial began after the 2013 murder of rapper and leftist activist Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter.

Hundreds of demonstrators, many from leftist groups and trade unions, gathered in front of the court and sang, “Smash the fascists in every neighborhood.” Police banned a rally planned by Golden Dawn supporters.

The conviction is expected to be announced later on Monday, unless the judges are replaced.

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