By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Thousands of Greeks participated in anti-fascist rallies in Athens and other major cities across the country Wednesday.
Rallies in Athens and the second biggest city Thessaloniki overshadowed a 48-hour public sector strike over layoffs demanded by Greece’s international lenders.
More than 10,000 people, some holding banners reading “Never Again Fascism” and singing anti-fascism anthems, marched outside parliament in the central Syntagma Square.
Greeks voiced their rage at the killing of an anti-racism rapper by a supporter of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party. Police fired tear gas at angered protestors marching towards Golden Dawn headquarters in Athens.
Meanwhile, a Supreme Court prosecutor ordered restrictions to be lifted on the telephone records of Golden Dawn party members and deputies as part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of Pavlos Fissas.
A former Golden Dawn member reportedly gave evidence on Wednesday regarding the party’s structure and activities; his deposition is considered key in the probe into the hate crimes of Golden Dawn members.
Five more people alleged to have spoken on the phone with Giorgos Roupakias, the Golden Dawn member that admitted to murdering Pavlos Fyssas, testified before an investigating magistrate in Piraeus on Wednesday.
Golden Dawn has denied any wrong doing on behalf of its members and supports all along, saying it is the target of a witch-hunt. MP and party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris stating in Parliament that they will take to court all political parties and journalists accusing them of being racist criminals.
The government on the other hand is prepared to capitalize on public outrage against the killing of Pavlos Fissas and help authorities form a sound basis that will substantiate charges of forming a criminal organization against the neo-Nazi party. It has also proceeded with an unprecedented shake-up of Greek police following reports that Golden Dawn party cells were operating within the force.
Greek President Karolos Papoulias said earlier this week, following a meeting with Public Order Minister N. Dendias, that he was closely following the highly important actions and initiatives being taken by the government.
A poll conducted by Alco for news portal Newsit shows support for Golden Dawn is waning. The party recorded a drop in popularity from 10.8 pct last June to 6.8 pct. Nearly 80 percent of Greeks said violent acts such as the murder of Fissas were a threat to democracy.