Athens, Greece – As on every September 18 since 2013, thousands of people marched in memory of the antifascist musician Pavlos ‘Killah P’ Fyssas and filled the street renamed in his honor, Pavlos Fyssas Avenue. Starting at the memorial site where Fyssas was murdered by Golden Dawn members in Keratsini, a western suburb of Athens, the march marking 10 years since his killing was led by his family and friends.
The demonstrators marched behind a banner reading “No step back” and chanted: “Pavlos lives, smash the Nazis” or “Neither in Piraeus nor anywhere else, block the fascists in every neighborhood.”
The Pavlos Killah-P Fyssas Cultural Association, a newly founded organization run by the family and Pavlos’ closest friends, held a week full of organized discussions and cultural events in the lead-up to the march. A concert attended by tens of thousands of people took place on Sept. 17 near the port of Piraeus.
Among the artists performing at the concert were well-known Greek rappers Lex and Dani Gambino. They set the tone by singing against fascism, racism and police violence. This year’s events come during a time when the country is facing another rise of far-right rhetoric and political presence.
Flashback to the Night of the Murder
The murder of Pavlos Fyssas happened on a public street in the center of the Keratsini neighborhood shortly after midnight on September 18, 2013. The 34-year-old rapper was visiting a cafe named Korali with his girlfriend and some friends.
At the next table sat a group of men from the far-right scene. An argument broke out between the groups. The men from the far-right messaged others with their cell phones, activating an attack battalion of neo-Nazi Golden Dawn members who gathered nearby in Nikaia and headed for Korali to attack.
When Fyssas left the cafe around midnight, a large group of men in camouflage pants and black shirts met him. They harassed Fyssas and chased him before catching up to him in the street. Fyssas was stabbed by Golden Dawn member Giorgios Roupakias and seriously injured with several knife wounds. Fyssas died shortly after in the arms of his girlfriend.
Everything was recorded on security cameras of shops in the area and on audio recordings of conversations of Golden Dawn members that preceded and followed the killing.
A 2018 investigation by human rights research agency Forensic Architecture proved the murder occurred in front of police officers who did nothing to prevent the attack.
The first call to the special motorized police unit (DIAS) was received at 23:54:14. Four minutes later at 23:58:11, eight police officers arrived at the scene on motorcycles.
Analysis of the camera data suggests that the police forces were present at the scene before the attack battalion of Golden Dawn arrived. At 00:05:20, an officer informed police headquarters that Pavlos Fyssas had been injured with a knife. A few minutes later Fyssas was dead.
Golden Dawn: From Parliamentary Party to ‘Criminal Organization’
Founded around neo-Nazi and white nationalist politics in the 1980s, Golden Dawn has carried out numerous acts of violence against migrants and political opponents. The organization gained power over time and had support within large circles of Greek police. After the murder of Fyssas, a Greek citizen, the government altered its course on allowing their actions to continue and made a series of arrests.
Charging the party of Golden Dawn as a criminal organization, the Anti-Terrorist Unit arrested Golden Dawn founder Nikolaos Michaloliakos on September 28, 2013, and began dismantling their structures. This was followed by the arrests of Ilias Kasidiaris, Ioannis Lagos and other leading (and non-leading) members.
In the coming years, the biggest trial of Nazis since the Nuremberg trials in the 1940s, took place and hundreds of witnesses testified to investigators about the criminal nature of the organization.
On October 7, 2020, Michaloliakos was found guilty of directing a criminal organization. Those who participated in the central structure of the organization, as well as former Members of Parliament (MPs) Ilias Kasidiaris, Ioannis Lagos, Christos Pappas, Giorgos Germenis, Ilias Panagiotaros and Artemios Matthaiopoulos were also found guilty.
For the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, Giorgios Roupakias who was found guilty of manslaughter with intent, illegal possession of a weapon, carrying a weapon and use of a weapon. Roupakias was sentenced to life in prison plus an additional 10 years imprisonment for his participation in the criminal organization.
“Pavlos made it… My son.” These were the first words of Magda Fyssas, the mother Pavlos Fyssas, after the announcement of the court’s decision on the murder of her son.
Golden Dawn’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos, denied criminal culpability in the murder saying he couldn’t prevent a member from killing but accepted “political responsibility.”
Before the verdict, an estimated 20,000 demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse in Athens to protest against fascism policed by 15,000 officers in riot gear. When the verdict was announced, applause erupted. On the outskirts of the gathering there were clashes between demonstrators and police, with Bengal flares flying and police using tear gas and water cannons.
The overwhelmed words of his mother – a symbol against fascism and the image of her with open hands “shouting” for justice – became a motto for an entire society.
Golden Dawn Convicts Appeal
Three years have now passed since the unanimous court decision that put a stop to the criminal organization Golden Dawn.
On June 15, 2022, the Appeal Court began a second degree trial. Those convicted in the first instance now appear in the Three-Member Criminal Court of Appeal to stand trial for the series of criminal acts attributed to them, including the murder of Fyssas.
Golden Dawn is in a far less favorable position than it was in 2015. Convicted former leaders Ioannis Lagos and Ilias Kasidiaris have left Golden Dawn and split the organization into two parts by founding their own parties: the National Popular Consciousness, which dissolved in February 2023 and the National Party – formerly Greeks for the Fatherland.
Thus, the convicts no longer pursue a common strategy and are often seen behaving in a hostile manner toward each other. Apart from Lagos, who is able to maintain his status as a Member of the European Parliament while in prison, all imprisoned Golden Dawn officials have lost their parliamentary status. This, in turn, means that they no longer have funds from the state treasury and can no longer pay armies of lawyers (many of whom were members of Golden Dawn) as they did in the first trial proceedings.
In the appeal proceedings – initiated by both sides – it is a question of whether the guilty verdict from the first trial will stand and whether the punishments will be tightened if necessary.
Ilias Kasidiaris, the former right-hand of the leader, was granted his first five-day leave from prison on October 20, with him stating that he will attend the appeal court on October 23. Organizations held an anti-fascist rally that day, with Kasidiaris not appearing after all.
As of October 27, many witnesses have testified again in what could be another lengthy and grueling trial. Trials in this case have now lasted nearly a decade with the appeal trials expected to last several years.
The Greek Far-Right Today
The Pavlos Killah P Fyssas Cultural Association stresses in a statement, that the year of 2023 has seen a rise in far-right activity through the country. The year marking ten years since the killing of Fyssas “coincides with the entry of extreme right-wing parties into Parliament, coincides with the candidacy of convicted neo-Nazis for the Municipality of Athens, coincides with the murder of Michalis Katsouris by neo-Nazi criminal supporters and coincides in general with an attempt to recreate a powerful far-right – racist – nationalist pole. Ten years on, we have not forgotten and there is no way we can leave our present and future to the fascists.”
The legislative election of June 2023 confirmed a shift to the right. Three parties to the right of governing party Nea Dimokratia (New Democracy – ND) are in parliament – Greek Solution (Elliniki Lisi), Victory (Niki) and the Spartans (Spartiates). Among them, the Spartans are the most notable – a political party nobody knew before the elections. When Kasidiaris supported the party from prison, its share rose to 4.68%.
Overall, the far-right’s electoral support has not increased significantly over the past decade but the non-voters and the disorganization of the left in general make them appear stronger. This is likely to continue even as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis (ND) is adopting a more far-right agenda and ramping up rhetoric against migrants and refugees.
Although the governing party is responsible for multiple scandals in the last years – surveillance of politicians and journalists, the deadly train crash in March 2023, and weak responses to the massive fires and floods that hit Greece in the last months – according to surveys, many people are still primed to vote for him. PM Mitsotakis is walking in his far-right father’s footsteps, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, who had a neoliberal profile, but was fascinated by the far-right and the former king.
The current PM appointed former right-wing ND Prime Minister Antonis Samaras as Minister of Administrative Reform to help his rise to the top. Extreme right-wingers from the party Popular Orthodox Rally, Adonis Georgiadis and Makis Voridis, were also appointed as ministers. PM Mitsotakis is now seen as a representative of hard-line neoliberalism and national populism – a so-called Greek “Orbanism” modeled on Hungary’s Viktor Orban’s authoritarian policies.
Meanwhile, Magda Fyssas said that as long as racism and fascism survive, it’s on the citizens to “fight for the ideals of freedom, democracy and solidarity.”
“This year marks the tenth anniversary of the murder of Pavlos by the criminal organization Golden Dawn. For us, his family, every day of these ten years is endless and martyrdom without our child. Ten years of mourning, but also of struggle against Nazism and fascism. Just as Pavlos does not return, the struggle does not end. As long as Kasidiaris is politicking from prison, as long as the leaders of Golden Dawn are putting on a show at the Court of Appeal, as long as fascism and racism are raising their heads every day, every democratic citizen must fight for the ideals of freedom, democracy and solidarity. We owe it to all the victims of the criminal organization.”
Watch OmniaTV’s documentary, Golden Dawn: A Personal Affair, published in March 2016.
Neo-Nazi Group Golden Dawn Makes Resurgence in Greece – January 2023
OmniaTV, Grassroots Independent Media in Greece – August 2019
For more media from Greece, see our Greece archive page.