Greek Golden Dawn protests
Greek Golden Dawn protestsFlash 90

A Greek court on Thursday adjourned the sentencing procedure for 18 former lawmakers of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn party and others convicted in the case, a day after the three-member panel of judges delivered a landmark verdict deeming the party a criminal organization, The Associated Press reports.

The court hearing will resume Friday morning with summations by the lawyers representing the former lawmakers, including the party's leader, with arguments on mitigating circumstances for more lenient sentences to be imposed.

Wednesday’s verdict was the culmination of a five-year, politically charged trial that involved 68 defendants — party officials, members, and alleged supporters — more than 200 witnesses and over 60 lawyers.

The court ruled that seven of the 18 former party lawmakers, including party leader Nikos Michaloliakos, were guilty of leading a criminal organization. The rest were found guilty of participating in a criminal organization.

The court also convicted a party member of murder, and 15 others of conspiracy in the case.

Golden Dawn, founded as a neo-Nazi group in the 1980s, has become notorious for its blatant anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric, openly displaying copies of “Mein Kampf,” as well as other works on Greek racial superiority at party headquarters.

Michaloliakos has claimed that Nazi concentration camps did not use ovens and gas chambers to exterminate Jews during the Holocaust.

In recent years, the party has been the subject of a crackdown by Greek authorities, with several of its leaders being arrested and tried.

During Thursday's sentencing hearing, prosecutor Adamantia Economou argued that mitigating circumstances could be recognized for those found guilty of membership of a criminal organization but not for other crimes.

The defendants are not required to be present in court for the verdict or sentencing. None of the 18 former lawmakers, who had all served the maximum 18 months in pre-trial detention at the start of the trial, were in court Wednesday, noted AP.

Wednesday’s verdict was welcomed by the World Jewish Congress (WJC), which said, “Today’s decision sends a clear message that Greek society does not tolerate hate and division. We salute Greece’s past and current political leadership for taking the necessary measures to eradicate this abhorrent group’s platform for disseminating hate.”

“This decision is not only historic for Greece, but for all those who support democratic values. The World Jewish Congress hopes that legislation and policies that promote education, respect and tolerance will be implemented around the world, so movements like Golden Dawn will never find fertile ground to grow,” the WJC statement added.