Prison (illustrative)
Prison (illustrative) Flash90

The Greek public prosecutor’s decision to release a senior member of the far right Golden Dawn party has sparked a wave of criticism in Greece.

The release of senior Golden Dawn leader George Patelis is the third early release of a member of the party, which is notorious for its blatant anti-Semitic rhetoric, and was named a criminal organization by a Greek court.

In October 2020, World Jewish Congress (WJC) welcomed a Greek court’s decision to convict 68 leaders of the country’s Golden Dawn national political party for participating in a criminal organization.

Less than six months after Patelis was convicted along with the rest of the party’s leaders, Patelis was granted a release from prison, news site Euractiv reported.

He had been serving a 10-year sentence for being a member of a criminal organization and for being complicit in the 2013 murder of rapper and anti-fascist activist Pavlos Fyssas.

He had only served two and a half years of his sentence when he was released.

The Athens daily EfSyn quoted the public prosecutor as saying that Patelis was an “exemplary prison” as one of the reasons for his early release. He was also reportedly let out of prison on compassionate grounds due to a family issue, and due to there being “no serious chance of committing a new act as the offence charged was committed for specific reasons in view of certain circumstances.”

The decision by the prosecutor was blasted by opposition parties. The government responded that the justice system in independent and that it had overseen the conviction of the Golden Dawn members but it had no authority over their jail terms.

With a public outcry mounting, the Greek Supreme Court prosecutor said on Tuesday that he may suspend the lower prosecutor’s ruling.