By Lefteris Yallouros – Athens
Former aide to Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Takis Baltakos told a prosecutor Monday that the Greek PM had no idea of his meetings with neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris.
The former government secretary testified for two-and-a-half hours before prosecutor Calliope Dagianta as a witness, claiming the meeting with Kasidiaris had taken place “about six months ago” in his office in Parliament and was not secret or harmful for the government. He also revealed that in the beginning of the judicial investigation into Golden Dawn he had expressed his disagreement, as he was also against the anti-racist bill, which was prepared in the final days of the three party coalition government in 2013, only to be unexpectedly withdrawn by the PM a few weeks later.
Baltakos resigned last week after the spokesman of Golden Dawn, Ilias Kasidiaris, released a video showing him in conversation with the latter. Their talk was illegally video-taped by Kasidiaris and used in an attempt by Golden Dawn to prove their party members have been wrongfully prosecuted for forming a criminal organization and the PM has manipulated prosecutors and judges to land the neo-Nazi party in hot water.
The cabinet secretary is heard saying that a criminal investigation into the group was aimed at stemming losses for the ruling conservative party. “He’s afraid for himself because you are cutting his lead over SYRIZA,” Baltakos tells Kasidiaris in the video.
After causing the resignation of Baltakos, Golden awn has attempted to throw the government in turmoil, claiming there are more videos to come. Their plans were halted Monday, however, as a top Supreme Court judge warned that anyone (including MPs) found to have made use of illegally acquired recordings would be immediately arrested.
The embarrassing exchange between Baltakos and Kaisidiaris has reinforced the perception of links between the far-right and factions in Samaras’s New Democracy party. Furthermore, it has boosted main opposition SYRIZA in polls ahead of European Parliament and local elections in May.
SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has been saying since that “the Samaras government has proved to be dangerous and cannot continue handling the country’s fate.”