MEP Ioannis Lagos, a former member of the Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, “Was arrested in Brussels” Tuesday April 27, after the lifting of his parliamentary immunity, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) a Greek police source. Ioannis Lagos, sentenced in Greece to thirteen years and eight months’ imprisonment for “Leadership of a criminal organization”, was the subject of an international arrest warrant. He himself confirmed his arrest by a tweet : “I am in a police vehicle, thieves, atheists, anti-Hellenes are going to imprison me”. In Brussels, the prosecution declared that the MEP had been deprived of his liberty, without giving any other information.
Triggered at the request of Athens, the lifting of his immunity was decided on Monday evening by a very large majority by the European Parliament: 658 MEPs voted for, 25 against and 10 abstained, according to the result of the vote in session plenary which took place by secret ballot.
“I am not going back to Greece in the next few days”, he said Monday on Twitter, reacting to the vote in the European Parliament. He also declared that he would stay “Strong and free”.
“Impunity cannot be tolerated”
Ioannis Lagos is one of around 40 Golden Dawn members sentenced in October 2020 in Athens after a five-and-a-half-year marathon trial. A senior member of the neo-Nazi party, aged 48, he was remanded in custody, like the entire leadership of this formation, after the murder, near Athens, of an anti-fascist activist, Pavlos Fyssas, in September 2013. He was released on parole eighteen months later pending trial.
He had enjoyed parliamentary immunity since his election in July 2019 to the European Parliament under the banner of Golden Dawn, a formation he left a few months later to become independent. Ioannis Lagos had, on the day of the verdict of the Athens Criminal Court in October 2020, “Left Greece for Brussels in order to escape conviction”, explained in a press release the French MEP Marie Toussaint (Greens), rapporteur of the European Parliament on this file. “It was imperative for the European Union to lift the immunity of Ioannis Lagos so that he can face justice in his country. The condemnation pronounced by this one is serious. Impunity cannot be tolerated ”, she added.
A former security guard, Ioannis Lagos was the local leader of Golden Dawn in the area where Pavlos Fyssas was killed. “Nothing would have been done without the approval of Lagos”, the victim’s mother said during the trial. The leader of Golden Dawn, Nikos Michaloliakos, and most of the convicts have been jailed. But the organization’s number two, Christos Pappas, is on the run.