Greek Neo-Nazi Lawmaker Stripped of Immunity by European Parliament

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BRUSSELS — The convicted Greek neo-Nazi Ioannis Lagos was stripped of his immunity as a member of the European Parliament on Tuesday, clearing the best way for his extradition to Greece months after he was sentenced in a landmark trial.

Mr. Lagos, a number one member of the now-defunct felony group Golden Daybreak, which shaped a political get together that in its heyday was the third largest within the Greek Parliament, instructed The New York Instances in written feedback earlier this yr that he was planning to flee to a “European nation” the place his rights could be protected, however didn’t specify which.

On Tuesday, shortly after the waiving of his immunity was introduced, he didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The choice by the European Parliament, introduced Tuesday morning after a secret poll held a day earlier, comes after months of delays of process over protocol and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr. Lagos was elected to the European Parliament as an unbiased candidate whereas his trial for forming and operating a gang was ongoing in 2019.

He was discovered responsible alongside dozens of different main members of Golden Daybreak, and he was sentenced to 13 years in jail for operating a felony group, however was protected till now by immunity afforded to members of the European Parliament.

Golden Daybreak rose to prominence a decade in the past, systematically focusing on the European Union and migrants, particularly Muslims, in the course of the monetary disaster that devastated Greece’s economic system and society.

The trial in Greece lasted greater than 5 years and is extensively thought to be some of the essential circumstances in opposition to neo-Nazis in modern Europe, the place forces of the far proper turned empowered in the course of the monetary disaster and additional emboldened after the refugee disaster of 2015-2016, in some circumstances penetrating the mainstream political spectrum.

One of many main members of the get together, Christos Pappas, stays on the run after his conviction.

Mr. Lagos has been combating to carry on to his immunity and keep away from extradition to Greece to serve his sentence, whereas additionally claiming the case in opposition to him is political and that he’s being prosecuted for his political ideas, not his deeds.

The European Parliament has come underneath criticism for taking months to deliberate on the waiver of Mr. Lagos’s immunity and for refusing to prioritize his case over different pending immunity circumstances of European lawmakers wished of their house international locations over smaller authorized issues.

The Parliament’s related committee defended its tempo and prioritization of circumstances as partly a matter of slowed-down deliberations due to the coronavirus outbreak and partly an effort to meticulously observe protocol to keep away from any costs of bias.

The committee beneficial the European Parliament waive Mr. Lagos’s immunity final week, in an nameless vote of twenty-two to 2, and the total Parliament supported that call in a vote by 658 to 25, with 10 abstentions.

The subsequent step is for the Greek authorities to ask the authorities in Belgium, the place the Parliament relies more often than not and Mr. Lagos is a resident, to arrest and extradite him.

It might then be as much as Belgian courts to rule on the request, which can take months. The Brussels Public Prosecutor’s Workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Ought to the Belgians block a request, Mr. Lagos would proceed to take a seat within the European Parliament, however that appears extremely unlikely.

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