Two photojournalists who were assaulted this week by supporters of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn testified this week before magistrates about the attack. They say this was not an isolated incident but par for the course for the party and its supporters. Golden Dawn is infamous for regularly targeting and intimidating members of the press.
The attack occurred outside of the Athens Court of Appeals on July 4th when Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and deputies Giannis Lagos and Christos Pappas arrived at the court to provide supplementary testimony.
The three have been imprisoned pending the completion of their trial along with other Golden Dawn officials who are accused of a range of charges. These accusations include establishing and running a criminal organisation and ordering violent attacks on immigrants.
As the police van arrived outside the court on Leoforos Alexandras Avenue in Athens, the gathered Golden Dawn supporters grew aggressive, chanting slogans and attempting to push in closer against the police cordon. They also threw rocks and bottles. In response, riot police deployed tear gas and flash grenades:
During the scuffles, the two photojournalists attempting to document the clashes were assaulted by Golden Dawn supporters and injured.
One of the journalists, a woman named Simela Pantartzi who works for the Athens News Agency, was taken to a hospital after reportedly being thrown to the ground and repeatedly kicked.
On Monday, Pantartzi and the other journalist involved, Giannis Kemmos, testified about the incident together with the Marios Lolos, the president of the Hellenic Union of Photojournalists, and two other witnesses.
The journalists made clear that the latest attack was part of a wider pattern which has seen reporters regularly intimidated and assaulted not only by Golden Dawn supporters, but by party MPs as well.
According to their testimony, a similar incident took place in January following the pre-trial imprisonment of MPs Giorgos Germenis and Panagiotis Iliopoulos, when Golden Dawn supporters threw glass bottles at a journalist with the public broadcaster DT while she was on-air.
They also referred to a verbal and physical assault in October by party spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris against cameramen and photographers outside the court of Evelpidon, following the decision that he be released from pretrial imprisonment.
Photojournalist union president Marios Lolos noted how in such incidents the police took little action in defence of the journalists, describing them as being ‘present but absent.’
He also added that journalists covering Golden Dawn would often be filmed by members of the party, something which does not happen with any other political group. He claimed that the actions proved that neo-Nazi organisation seeks to identify and target specific journalists deemed as hostile.
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