Political parties say it’ a blow to Democracy – Police suspect urban guerrillas behind murder of Golden Dawn members.
Athens.- The possibility that two Golden Dawn members shot dead outside party offices in northern Athens on Friday were killed by members of an urban guerrilla group is considered by the police as the most likely explanation for the attack.
The raid left two men, 22-year-old Manolis Kapelonis and 26-year-old Giorgos Fountoulis, dead and a third, 29-year-old Alexandros Gerontas, fighting for his life. Gerontas is hospitalised in ICU of “G.Gennimatas’ hospital in Athens following a surgery in his chest and his abdomen. The medical staff also said that the patient will not undergo a new operation, however said that his health condition is crucial.
The three men were shot outside Golden Dawn’s offices in Neo Iraklio. Police said that two men wearing crash helmets were involved in the attack, although it is possible that there were accomplices at the scene. The two men got off a motorbike they parked across the street from the neo-Nazi party’s offices, walked up to the victims and one of the pair opened fire. Twelve bullet casings were recovered from the scene. It is believed that the assailants used a Zastava semi-automatic revolver.
Kapelonis and Fountoulis were struck in the chest and head, suggesting that the gunman intended to kill. Police sources said that the only terrorist group that had committed these kinds of murders in Greece recently was the Sect of Revolutionaries, which claimed responsibility for killing policeman Nektarios Savvas in June 2009 and journalist Sokratis Giolias in July 2010.
The group has not made an appearance since then but officers note that a proclamation signed by the imprisoned members of another urban guerrilla group, Conspiracy of the Cells of Fire, last month called for the formation of a “united front” with other terrorist organizations, including the Sect of Revolutionaries.
Police are also investigating if the shooting could be connected to Nikos Maziotis, a member of another group, Revolutionary Struggle, who is currently on the run from authorities. Last month, police linked Maziotis to an armed bank robbery. The fugitive issued a statement via the Indymedia website denying he was involved.
Officers recovered a motorcycle some 2 kilometers from the shooting and are conducting tests to find out if it was the one used by the attackers. Golden Dawn also said it had provided authorities with a copy of footage from its CCTV cameras, which allegedly captured the attack.
Golden Dawn MP Eleni Zaroulia, the wife of leader Nikos Michaloliakos who was remanded in custody last month on suspicion of heading a criminal organization, blamed Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias for the murders. Zaroulia and two more of the extremist party’s lawmakers handed in their gun licenses and weapons at Pefki police precinct in northern Athens. They said they received a request a few days earlier from the Public Order Ministry to do so.
The Greek government pledged that the killers will be treated “mercilessly.”
“The killers, whoever they may be, will be treated mercilessly by democracy, justice and the united Greek society. Let all be aware of this,” government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told reporters outside the Maximos Mansion government headquarters in relation to the killing.
On his part, Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias said that the “law will be enforced for all,” adding that the government would not allow the country to become a place for the “settling of accounts for any reason”.
Dendias also expressed his grief over the death of two young people.
According to statements by Golden Dawn MPs and latest reports, the victims of the attack were members of the party. Their two unidentified assailants were riding on a motorbike when they opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle as they passed outside the party’s offices at 420 Irakliou Avenue, instantly killing two of the men standing outside and seriously injuring a third. The GD offices were closed at the time of the attack. The injured man has been rushed to a hospital in Athens.
“A motorcycle with two helmeted terrorists stopped in front of the Golden Dawn offices in Neo Iraklio while the office was opened and a number of people were standing at the entrance,” a press release of the far-right Golden Dawn (Chryssi Avghi) party said.
“The co-driver dismounted and executed two young men aged 22 and 26, from a distance of half a meter. Before driving off, the terrorists shot again against the victims lying dead on the ground. They literally emptied their guns on them. Another citizen was seriously injured by a bullet. It is a miracle that there were no more victims. The blow was blind and the culprits were determined to kill anyone who was at the Golden Dawn offices at the time,” the press release added.
It also stressed that the Golden Dawn had requested police protection as it had received threats.
The New Democracy (ND) party said in a press release: “we condemn in the strongest manner the savage killing and the serious injury of young people by ruthless criminals. We condemn violence from wherever it comes from, whoever it targets”.
In its own press release, the PASOK party said that “today’s heinous event of the assassination of young people necessitates the unanimous and absolute condemnation of violence by Greek society in its entirety.
“Democracy and legality stand against violence. They protect the country. Together with the calmness and the unity of the Greek people. “We express our warm condolences to the families of the two dead.”
PASOK leader and government vice president Evangelos Venizelos is in constant contact with the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias.
The main opposition Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) said that the taking of human life constitutes the ultimate crime.
“Today’s killing creates a climate of destabilisation and targets democracy. It must meet with absolute condemnation, as well as its moral, ideological and political isolation,” a SYRIZA press release read.
The Independent Greeks (ANEL) party noted in a statement that “some people are preparing to drive the country into civil war”.
“We call on Greeks to unite and show a spirit of national resistance against those plotting against national sovereignty through division,” the statement added.
On its part, the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) condemned in a statement the killing, underlining at the same time that “this attack raises very serious questions on the motives and the targets it serves.”
The Democratic Left (DIM.AR) party, in its announcement said that it “condemns with abhorrence the killing of two young people outside the offices of Golden Dawn.”
“Democracy and legality will stand against such phenomena planning to impose the vicious circle of violence and blood,” the announcement added.