Yiorgos Roupakias (C), who is in custody pending trial over the killing of anti-racism Greek rapper Pavlos Fissas, is escorted by police officers at the court room where the trial of the leaders of Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party takes place, in Koridallos prison, near Athens, April 20, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
Athens, Greece: The killer of a Greek anti-fascist rapper whose death sparked a major probe of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn was released Friday with his murder trial ongoing, a judicial source said.
Yiorgos Roupakias, a retired truck driver, was taken to his home in Piraeus under heavy police escort and will remain under house arrest, the source added.
He has spent 30 months in jail, the maximum time someone can be held in Greece without a conviction.
Roupakias’ murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas in 2013 shocked the country and sparked an investigation into the actions of Golden Dawn, which until then had not been sanctioned despite being linked to a campaign of violence against migrants and political opponents.
The trial of 69 members and supporters of the xenophobic and anti-Semitic formation began in April but has made little headway due to procedural wrangling.
The prosecution is trying to prove Golden Dawn operated as a full-blown criminal outfit that allegedly encouraged beatings and even killings.
Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos last year admitted political responsibility for Fyssas’ killing but rejected any criminal blame, calling Roupakias’ actions “reprehensible”.
But the Fyssas family say they have no illusions about who ordered the killing, pointing to the formation’s tightly-regimented structure.
The investigation found a flurry of phonecalls took place between Roupakias and senior Golden Dawn figures immediately after Fyssas’ murder.
Testifying in September, Fyssas’ father said his son had been ambushed by around 60 Golden Dawn members outside a cafeteria and had been felled by “professional” blows to the heart.
A handful of police stood nearby but did not intervene when a group of around 20 people chased down Fyssas and his friends, said Panagiotis Fyssas, a retired shipyard worker,
“He took two blows to the heart … the doctor at the hospital said it was a professional blow to cause internal bleeding,” Fyssas told the court.
In the last election in September, the neo-Nazis lost some 9,000 votes nationwide compared to the previous election in January, but still finished third with 18 lawmakers.
Michaloliakos and other senior Golden Dawn members were also jailed at the outset of the investigation but have since been released.