ATHENS – The fugitive deputy leader of Greece’s extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party was jailed on Friday, hours after his capture by the police’s anti-terrorism division.
Christos Pappas, a 59-year-old former lawmaker, had been on the run for nearly nine months, disappearing before a court sentenced him to 13 years in prison for participation in a criminal organization.
He was arrested late Thursday on a ground floor apartment in an Athens suburb along with a 52-year-old woman who is facing charges of aiding and abetting a fugitive. Police led Pappas to a high security prison in central Greece following a brief court appearance.
Pappas and 56 other Golden Dawn members were convicted last October, including the party’s leader Nikos Michaloliakos and other former lawmakers.
After a five-year trial, the court ruled that Golden Dawn party had operating as a criminal organization, responsible for the 2013 fatal stabbing of Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas, as well as the beatings of Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and left-wing activists in 2013.
Before his disappearance, Pappas had been released from pre-trial custody after the maximum 18-month period for which he could be held expired.
Pappas' lawyer, Pericles Stavrianakis, told reporters his client maintained that he was arrested while visiting the apartment and had not been hiding there. He did not give further details.
Golden Dawn was founded as a Nazi-inspired organization in the 1980s. A fringe group for years, it saw a surge in popularity during a 2010-2018 financial crisis that caused hardship for millions of Greeks.
They won national representation in four parliamentary elections between 2012 and 2019, rising to become the country’s third strongest political party.
“Greece’s democracy struggled to shed this poison, the toxic Golden Dawn,” government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said following Pappas’ arrest.
“The arrest of Christos Pappas brings this chapter, of this criminal organization, to an end.”