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Head of Greek far-right Golden Dawn party is granted early release from prison

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The head of Greece’s extreme far-right Golden Dawn party was granted conditional early release from prison Thursday, after serving part of his sentence for running a criminal organization blamed for violent hate crimes.

A council of judges accepted the request by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 66, who had served the minimal legal requirement for early release. The decision also took into consideration that he was aged over 65, which increases the time he is formally considered to have served. He is in poor health and spent 18 months in pre-trial detention.

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Restrictions imposed on him include a ban on traveling outside the greater Athens region.

Michaloliakos and five other former Golden Dawn lawmakers were convicted in October 2020 of running a criminal organization and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Other party members received lesser sentences, following a five-year trial.

Golden Dawn was founded as a Nazi-inspired group in the 1980s and rose to become Greece’s third-largest political party during most of the country’s 2010-2018 financial crisis. Its support later declined, and the party failed to enter parliament post-crisis.

The crackdown on the party followed the 2013 fatal stabbing of a left-wing musician in Athens, for which a Golden Dawn associate was given a life sentence.

Greek political parties and the family of the slain musician expressed dismay at Thursday’s decision.

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