Greek PM warns neo-Nazi party after singer murder

Greek PM warns neo-Nazi party after singer murder
Women read the front pages of newspapers hanging from a kiosk, following the murder of rapper and activist Pavlos Fyssas, in central Athens, on Thursday.

Athens, Sept 19, 2013 - Greece's prime minister on Thursday vowed to rein in the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party after the murder of an anti-fascist singer by one of its supporters sparked nationwide outrage.

"This government is determined not to allow the descendants of the Nazis to poison our social life, to commit crimes, terrorise and undermine the foundations of the country that gave birth to democracy," Antonis Samaras said in a televised address.

The murder early on Wednesday of popular hip-hop artist Pavlos Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Killah P, has prompted angry calls for a check on the party's activities.

Thousands of Greeks took to the streets to protest against the killing on Thursday, a day after police and anti-fascist demonstrators clashed in cities across the country.

Around 4,000 people took to the streets of Athens carrying banners that said "stop fascism" and "no pasaran" ("they shall not pass").

The protesters, mostly trade union members, shouted slogans including "out with fascists" and "workers do not fear threats".

The 34-year-old was fatally stabbed in the working-class Athens district of Keratsini the previous day by a 45-year-old truck driver, George Roupakias, who allegedly confessed his Golden Dawn affiliation to police.

The victim's family said that Fyssas and a small group of friends were ambushed by a large gang of Golden Dawn supporters outside a cafeteria. Golden Dawn quickly denied links with the killer, but pictures soon surfaced of Roupakias participating in party activities, and reports said members of his family worked for the organisation.

Many experts have argued that current legislation would make it difficult to slap an outright ban on Golden Dawn, a measure that could be challenged as undemocratic after the party picked up over 400,000 votes in the last election. Nevertheless, the government spokesman on Thursday said steps would be taken to expose the group's "criminal" acts and isolate it.

"The law will be applied and we believe that this will be the conclusion," government spokesman Simos Kedikoglou told Skai television. "Starting from the perpetrators, we will (address) the organisation's structure and how it essentially encouraged criminal acts. A simple ban is not enough," Kedikoglou said.

As the Greek press on Thursday called for tighter control of Golden Dawn, whose provocative behaviour has escalated in recent months, rights groups faulted the authorities for allowing the group to operate with near-impunity.

"The cold-blooded murder of a citizen by a Golden Dawn supporter must awaken everyone," the liberal newspaper Kathimerini said in an editorial. "There must be zero tolerance towards the criminal activity of this neo-Nazi organisation," it said.

"The monster of Nazism kills - resist", centre-left daily Ethnos urged Greece's mainstream parties.

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