Translated by Johanna Hanink (Greek text from the Golden Dawn Watch)
Presiding Judge: Did you give speeches?
[Ilias] Kasidiaris: Lots of them, of course.
Judge: What about the newspaper article from April 2011, in which you describe and refer to Hitler and characterize him as a reformer, and say that he was a military genius?
Kasidiaris: I’m not going to comment on articles written as political critiques, and about historical events […]
Judge: How come then, after 2014–explain so we can understand–you changed your characterization?
Kasidiaris: Clearly I am opposed, I unequivocally denounce and condemn all crimes, every war crime but also every crime within the purview of the legal code.
Judge: But your characterization there of Hitler as a reformer and military genius, what was that in relation to?
Kasidiaris: As I’ve said, I don’t want to make any comment about things written in the context of free speech and the free exchange of ideas. I’m surprised because, besides Hitler, I’ve also said things elsewhere about Che Guevera: why doesn’t anyone ask me about that? There was a cover with Che Guevara. Why wasn’t that seized? There was a cover in Kalamata. I’m amazed by this single-mindedness.
Judge: Let’s go back to January 2005, to a concert you attended along with other members.
Kasidiaris: I have attended and have every right to attend concerts, demonstrations… as long as I don’t break the law.
Judge: This was a concert where, as we saw, there were certain symbols … Nazi symbols, SS flags, Wehrmacht paraphernalia, swastikas, a greeting they identify, as they stated in the testimony, as Ancient Greek. Do you remember this concert?
Kasidiaris: These matters of greetings and symbols that I discussed in my articles—I’m not going to touch on them in my defense statement, since even Dogiakos’ decision [Isidoros Dogiakos is the state prosecutor who handled the Golden Dawn investigation] explicitly states that ideology and symbols—so, Stalin, Hitler, the hammer and sickle, the swastika—are not matters for criminal prosecution. There is such a thing as freedom of exchange of ideas; I can’t make any comment about these things once they’re raised in a legal context, I won’t say anything more about all this.
Judge: But when certain newspapers published a photo that showed you with certain flags behind you, Wehrmacht flags, you went on to say that it had been photoshopped.
Kasidiaris: I have made public statements about these matters, I’m not going to make any comment.
Judge: You will be absolutely silent.
Michalolias: What are they whispering? We can’t hear the defense.
Judge: What did you say?
Michalolias: What are they whispering?
Kasidiaris: God forbid we get to a point where any citizen, whether on the Left or Right, communist or Maoist, has to come to defend themselves in court because of symbols.
Judge: Would you say the same thing regarding the tattoo on your hand?
Kasidiaris: I’ve written an article about this matter. I won’t discuss it any further.
Judge: The word ‘agivasiin’ [ἀγχιβασίην]—what does it mean?
Kasidiaris: It has to do with a philological debate about Heraclitus, one we can have anytime in my political office—not here.
Judge: OK, fine. Did the Golden Dawn have a National Socialist ideology?
Kasidiaris: As I already said, for a citizen to have to defend themself for a matter of ideas is unacceptable. I’m not going to make a defense of the party’s ideology. I will however make a statement: Golden Dawn is a populist nationalist party; our ideology is nationalism. This isn’t because of the question from the bench. I’m making this statement because there’s publicity around this trial and that’s where I stop. The right to self-definition is one that nobody can take away from a Greek citizen.
MURDER OF MANOLIS KANDARIS
Judge: And the incidents in May 2011?
Kasidiaris: May 2011. Can you give me further details?
Judge: May of 2011, following the murder of M[anolis] Kadaris.
Kasidiaris: After the murder of Kadaris there was a mass, really a massive, demonstration by many people, that I took part in and which residents invited me to as member of the City Council because, as they said, we represented them.
Judge: Besides yourself, were other co-defendants of yours present at the political council?
Kasidiaris: Because things were happening spontaneously at that time, there wasn’t an organized presence from the party.
Judge: And the incidents of violence?
Kasidiaris: As far as I learned from the media, in the end there were incidents, I didn’t see them. I saw a demonstration that was tense, chanting, but no violent incidents.
Judge: In which individuals from the Golden Dawn took part?
Kasidiaris: No, no. With absolute certainty I say no.
Judge: You assumed responsibilities in 2012?
Kasidiaris: Yes, I was Press Secretary and I had developed a rhetorical strategy—I’ve written books, I’ve read many, I’ve done work on the subject of public speaking—that was my basic role, and we decided that I’d train some of the younger members so they could learn to speak in public, to create a positive impression of the party in the world. I attempted this to the best of my abilities, but seeing as my schedule as MP was very busy it didn’t get far.
Judge: In something readable on the hard drive of Michalioliakos […] As someone responsible for ideology and the training of personnel, what exactly was the nature of the training? Could it have also involved training in the use of weapons?
Kasidiaris: I never trained the party in weapon use or martial arts. My own hobbies are another matter. The training was in public speaking, the party was lacking in this, I did what I could. This was—
Judge: The training in that sense of the word…
Kasidiaris: It had nothing to do with the party as a whole. There wasn’t that kind of training in the party. Of course, I have a great love for weapons and martial arts. That is well known, but it’s a matter of my private life.
Judge: In some photos you seem to be training people in areas outside the city center, outside Athens.
Kasidiaris: Of course. When I go shooting, I go to organized centers located outside the city. I go to Greece’s official shooting ranges. All the photos you’ve seen and which were on my harddrive are of me engaging in this athletic activity.
UNIFORM DRESS & MARCHING
Judge: At rallies, at your special events, was there any particular uniform?
Kasidiaris: Absolutely not—everyone wore whatever they wanted and I will submit a photo where Mr. Panagiotaros had come in a bathing suit.
Judge: You haven’t seen other demonstrations where there was uniform dress?
Kasidiaris: Everyone wore whatever they wanted, it’s just that I’d said that it would be nice if you all wore the shirt with the party logo, but in that there was no obligation, there was no order. There was no order for anything in the party. I used to go to Parliament […]
Judge: Is there a message that says ‘uniform dress, Lagos’ orders’?
Kasidiaris: I don’t know anything about that.
Judge: What about the orders we’ve heard about?
Kasidiaris: In this case, as I was walking to the monument [to the Battle of Meligalas], I wasn’t impressed by the sight of the people who had gathered—you can’t just go like you were headed to a picnic—and at that moment I had the idea to say ‘come on guys, let’s go to a place with 2,000 graves’, and I had the splendid idea, and I’ve since regretted it, I wanted us to go at a march. For anyone who’s been in the army, it’s easy to fall into step. People there who were doing variations didn’t fall into step. Watch the video. I said, ‘come on guys, that’s how we should go to the monument’, but they didn’t manage it.
Judge: No, it seems like they were marching, and you can hear the sound of marching.
Kasidiaris: I had the splendid idea to attempt it and these people were totally disjointed.
Judge: At some point you said in Messenia that ‘our rallies aren’t those of a political party, they resemble more of a military unit’.
Kasidiaris: That’s how I end all of my speeches in Messenia, even today.
Judge: How do they resemble a military unit?
Kasidiaris: Let me finish. Even today in Colonus, I saw that what you see is an image from the army, that we stand at attention and sing the national anthem. Men, women, children—we pay our respects to those who have fallen, that’s my personal view, at all of the ceremonies and all of the demonstrations that’s what I say. I like this sight, everyone at attention to sing the anthem. What I don’t like is the sight of Tsipras singing the national anthem with his feet apart and his hands in his pockets.
Judge: Was Roupakias there at Meligalas?
Kasidiaris: Roupakias, how that guy looks, I saw him days after the media assassination.
Judge: When you were asked about Roupakias and you said ‘he’s not a registered member’, what did you mean by ‘registered member’?
Kasidiaris: What I mentioned just now. Officially there weren’t members.
Judge: What did you check [that allows you] to say that?
Kasidiaris: That there weren’t members. He definitely wasn’t a member. I told you the process for member registration. There are documents in the file. And after 2012 we said that it had to be from 2009. Roupakias had nothing to do with Golden Dawn. Therefore he couldn’t have been a member.
Judge: That ‘he’s not a member’ is what you said around October of 2013.
Kasidiaris: And I repeat it now.
Judge: And yet, we’ve seen that he belonged to the five-member committee in the Nikaia offices.
Kasidiaris: He belonged as a supporter in Nikaia. I learned that afterwards, but I repeat that he’s not a member and the documents in the file prove it. I repeat: he wasn’t a member and was considered a supporter.
Judge: By that thinking no one was a member.
Kasidiaris: I was a member.
Judge: Is there a list of members?
Kasidiaris: At the moment the party is being reorganized in the wake of its defeat.
Judge: Let’s not talk about the defeat. First, was there a list?
Kasidiaris: But didn’t I just explain this to you? From 2003 onward I was a member, and I also became an official member of the central committee. It’s all very simple. I was also considered a member. The need for documents arose after 2009. With me, there was no need.
Judge: There’s another document, with signatures from an accountant, which contains the names Patelis and Roupakias as responsible locally for Nikaia.
Kasidiaris: I’m not familiar with this document. I’m telling you in all certainty that Roupakias was not in charge locally. I repeat unequivocally that my ‘I don’t know Roupakis’ is the whole truth. I saw him a few days after the media assassination. I’m not arguing, maybe his name was …
Judge: No, there are the names of all the local officials, you didn’t say ‘I don’t know what he is, if he is’, you said ‘he’s not a member’.
Kasidiaris: He’s not a member, I’m repeating it again now. I’m being clear.
Judge: Seeing as we’ve seen him say in a speech in Sparta ‘You’re not born Golden Dawn, you’re not born, but Golden Dawn you die’, in other words, he’s taken initiatives, and he was at the camp in Neda to swear the oath. In other words, it doesn’t seem like he’s just been a passerby.
Kasidiaris: No one denies this. I never said that he was a passerby. But in terms of the operations of the tens of local chapters, where everyone could speak and say even what you just mentioned, which is idiotic, the party couldn’t know what each individual was going to say.
Judge: So in other words anyone could go to a local branch and give whatever speech all on his own?
Kasidiaris: There were lots and lots of speeches, given by hundreds of citizens
Judge: There was something his sister, Chrysoula, said – ‘I thought of grabbing him by the throat’, and she refers to you: ‘let me tell him, the bastard, who trained him for this, to beat people up?’
Kasidiaris: That’s what Independent Greeks party officials say.
Michalolias interrupts: No, [the newspaper] EfSyn wrote it in an article yesterday.
Kasidiaris: Roupakias’ sister didn’t say these things. And I said how idiotic these things are, I filed a lawsuit about this. I was informed about this during the interrogation, when they mentioned this conversation and I said I’d sue, as I did.
Judge: [Giorgos] Patelis—do you know him?
Kasidiaris: I knew everyone in charge. We had the usual interactions. Phone calls, communications.
Judge: Regarding the murder of P[avlos] Fyssas, you made a statement in Parliament that ‘Golden Dawn has nothing to do with it’, as did [Mihalis] Arvanitis, and on Oct. 23 [you said] what we said before, that ‘Roupakias isn’t a member, there was no communication with Patelis that night’.
Kasidiaris: No. ‘No communication’ about what? I said something like that? I don’t recall.
Judge: That night, do you know if anyone was in contact with Patelis?
Kasidiaris: Mesogeion [Golden Dawn’s headquarters in Athens] was closed that night.
Judge: Or was Patelis with one of them?
Kasidiaris: I have no idea about those conversations; I doubt that I made those kinds of statements. I repeat my statement that the party has nothing to do with that heinous crime. I repeat, it was immediately condemned by the party and I repeat it. Nor am I changing parties.
Judge: What role do you believe that Roupakias played? Did he decide on his own ‘I have differences with Fyssas and I’m going to kill him’?
Kasidiaris: I can’t express an opinion so long as there hasn’t been a legal ruling.
Judge: How do you explain the fact that Golden Dawn individuals were there that night?
Kasidiaris: Regarding any reference to what happened that night, what exactly they did, I have no statement to make since I don’t know the truth. I asked them about it in jail out of personal interest, and it destroyed my life. They all denied it, but I can’t offer any opinion while there’s still no legal ruling.
Judge: As to incidents predating Fyssas’ murder, had you been informed that there had been attacks, illegal activities, which according to the media had been attributed to Golden Dawn individuals?
Kasidiaris: According to the media … let me inform you that there would be very systematic headlines about us, ‘murderers’ and so on. Anyone who fell victim to verbal abuse would potentially accuse Golden Dawn. Our line was that absolute lawfulness must be upheld because we’re law abiding and we didn’t want the party to be harmed.
Judge: Was this absolute lawfulness upheld?
Kasidiaris: We tried.
Judge: Were you informed about an instance in which this lawfulness was not upheld?
Kasidiaris: What instance are you talking about? I tried, with the means I had available, together with the rest of the officials, to keep it upheld, but we weren’t police officers.
Judge: What about incidents like the attack on the fishermen, or on PAME [the Greek Communist Party’s All-Workers Militant Front]?
Kasidiaris: One at a time. You’re talking about earlier incidents. Let me inform you that I, too, was accused of illegal activity, of robbery, of causing bodily harm, and at that time the party asked me, ‘What exactly happened’? And at the time I said: ‘Hold on: I’m being accused’. You can’t issue a legal ruling in a political party.
Judge: What is your position towards the Roma?
Kasidiaris: Our position?
Judge: Your own position.
Kasidiaris: My position, not just about the Roma, but about foreigners and Greeks who display abusive behavior, is that the law needs to be enforced—that. You can’t be having these kinds of incidents in Aspropyrgos.
Judge: In a speech in Skala, Laconia, [you said] ‘how many millions has the EU given for us to integrate these parasites’?
Kasidiaris: How do you know I’m talking about the Roma? Read the entire speech for me please. How am I referring to Roma?
Judge: Fine, let’s go further on: ‘the real work happens by night’, you say—why day and night?
Judge: [reads the speech]
Kasidiaris: I’ll look it up on the internet to see what exactly was said. I can’t remember. So, there I’m referring to a particular operation where there was a camp, they were selling drugs, the police came in, the dealers saw them and left. Really [the police] should have done this at night, so they wouldn’t be detected and could catch them. I’m criticizing the police’s actions—it’s at night that they can catch drug dealers, when they’re sleeping.
Judge: For what reason did you refer to the ancient Krypteia?
Kasidiaris: In a speech, I don’t remember which, I use symbolism: the ancient Krypteia, the Spartan shield. I want to demonstrate that the Golden Dawn’s struggle for independence is a struggle that is a continuation of the Spartans.
Judge: It doesn’t go with the ‘in the dead of night, against enemies’ etc. that follows?
Kasidiaris: This is symbolism. I don’t mean that we’re taking arrow-fire. I’m making a speech and I’m using symbolism from antiquity. I’m not being literal. We’re not taking arrows here.
Judge: Some of the people listening to you in the audience—someone might not interpret it ‘metaphorically’ when you speak about nighttime.
Kasidiaris: Now, the word night in particular is something that someone might interpret differently, depending on their sexual orientation.
Kasidiaris: Come on now, Your Honor. I’m stating unequivocally that there is not the slightest shadow to what I say publicly. It’s completely bound up in legality. I’m being straight.
Prosecutor: Regarding illegal immigrants, what is your position?
Kasidiaris: Anyone who comes to Greece illegally needs to be driven out. The law needs to become strict. It can’t be the case that anyone who wants to can enter. I make a distinction for unaccompanied minors. They need to be distributed throughout the whole EU. Beyond that, those who enter illegally need to be driven out, no exceptions.
Prosecutor: When did you become aware of the murder of Fyssas?
Kasidiaris: In effect the next morning journalists called me, specifically [Aris] Portosalte from SKAI and [Dimos] Verikios from ALPHA, and asked me to appear on television, as I eventually did. The previous evening I’d received some messages, but I hadn’t understood them properly. What the media informed me was that they weren’t talking about a political confrontation; they said ‘He killed him over football’. This was the trigger for a political party to be declared illegal. That’s why I condemn this heinous crime on two counts.
Prosecutor: Did Nikos Michaloliakos assume political responsibility?
Kasidiaris: He later goes on to explain, and it’s apparent from what was said, that he’s referring to the political cost which the party suffered. As is well known, Tsipras, too, took political responsibility for what happened in Mati…
Prosecutor: Was there a disciplinary committee?
Kasidiaris: There was, but I wasn’t a member.
Prosecutor: What about stormtroopers?
Kasidiaris: The term ‘stormtroopers’ has been used a great deal by the Left, and it came into use at the initiative of [Nikos] Dendias [a member of New Democracy and Greece’s current Foreign Minister]. I answered this question then, and I repeat now: there are no stormtroopers in Golden Dawn; it’s a malicious slander.
Prosecutor: But when N[ikos] M[ichealiolakos] said ‘we are stormtroopers’?
Kasidiaris: It’s not appropriate to analyze political statements; that specific answer response was an ironic response to Mr. Dendias. When he said that he was talking about children; elderly people.
Michalolias interrupts: That’s fabricated testimony from a witness. When you ask about [Nikolaos] Michaloliakos’ political responsibility, we’d like you to read the entire statement; [when you mention] Thermopylae, to read the whole speech. These questions from EfSyn are unacceptable.
Kasidiaris: I can’t comment on lines from the speech. I’d like to refer to the statements in their entirety. You could say [the same of] the people we see in the KKE [the Greek Communist Party], with their helmets and uniform appearance, with gas masks the party obviously bought in bulk. Golden Dawn never looked like that. And of course for an MP to go out and say I would do these things too […] I mention incidents that occurred in Heraklion, Crete, because the police systematically saw things and did not intervene. Every citizen ought to feel safe, and there was a security team. That these anarchists with their helmets etc. won’t bother us, won’t scare us.
Prosecutor: Was there a specific kind of dress?
Kasidiaris: There was none, but it had become fashionable – for five euros you could buy a t-shirt, and a Roma guy would go and wear the t-shirt and say ‘I’m from Golden Dawn’.
Prosecutor: Anything to say about encampments, and about Neda, and training camps?
Kasidiaris: I don’t know about Neda, but [I know] that they took place nearly every summer at the offices, they participated voluntarily: games on the beach, running for good fitness.
Deputy prosecutor: Did you discuss Physsa’s murder with your co-defendant, [Ioannis] Lagos?
Kasidiaris: I’m not answering the prosecutor because the prosecutor has complete knowledge of the situation, of all of Dogiakos’ crimes etc., and therefore the purpose of his questions is not to locate the truth but to cover for them.
Judge: You said you’re not responding to the deputy prosecutor? That will be noted.
Kasidiaris: No, I’m not responding and I explained to you why.
Judge: Yes, could you please summarize that for us?
Kasidiaris: I refuse to answer because the deputy prosecutor has full and complete knowledge of all of Dogiakos’ actions; I insist that these questions of his are aimed not at clarifying the truth but rather at covering for his circle.
[member of the Court Gethsemane] Tsoulfoglou: You said that there was no military training in Golden Dawn.
Kasidiaris: I’ve already answered.
Tsoulfoglou: We’ve heard a conversation where [Konstantinos] Korkovilis said ‘yes, in fact, there was military training at military camps’.
Tsoulfoglou: When did you learn that Roupakias was a supporter?
Kasidiaris: Later, I’d gone to the central offices, I saw SWAT teams storming in…
Tsoulfoglou: How much later exactly?
Kasidiaris: A few hours later, on the same day that I’d gone to Parliament and had made my statement.
Tsoulfoglou: That night, were you at the Mesogeion offices?
Kasidiaris: The Mesogeion offices were closed.
Tsoulfoglou: Was Patelis there?
Kasidiaris: I can’t say with certainty if he was or wasn’t.
Tsoulfoglou: Your colleague, [Evangelos] Karakostas, swore that you were together, ‘Patelis and Kasidiaris’.
[Thanasis] Kabagiannis [prosecution lawyer]: At exactly the same time!
Kasidiaris: At that moment at the offices there were forty SWAT officers outside and 30 counter-terrorism officers inside and they were asking me ‘which MP’s office is this? Is he here? He’s not here?’ And I was trying to figure out the reason for the investigation.
Judge: When on Oct. 23 you say Roupakias isn’t a member?
Kasidiaris: I said verbatim he’s not a member.
Judge: Why didn’t you specify that he is a supporter?
Kasidiaris: I wish to say that a murder was committed in Patras by 30 members of ONNED [the Youth Organization of New Democracy], and [Ioannis] Kalabokas was charged at the time, but all of ONNED wasn’t prosecuted, nor was the party; there can’t be two weights and two measures, an entire party rounded up into jail…
Judge: We’ve concluded; time to leave.