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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:16am
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GREECE

Suspected members of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn go on trial for murder

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 11:56pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 December, 2013, 11:56pm

Two suspected members of the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn have gone on trial accused of stabbing a 27-year-old Pakistani man to death.

Dionyssis Liakopoulos, 25, and Christos Steriopoulos, 29, face a life sentence if found guilty of the drive-by killing of Shehzad Luqman in Athens in January.

The trial began on Wednesday. They were arrested a few hours after the murder when a taxi driver who witnessed the attack reported their motorbike numberplate to police.

According to the driver, the pair drove up behind the victim and assaulted him as he cycled in the Petralona neighbourhood near the Acropolis.

A search of Liakopoulos' home uncovered leaflets from the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, according to Kostas Papadakis, one of the plaintiff's lawyers. Banned weapons, knives and truncheons were also found at their homes. Liakopoulos is suspected of stabbing Luqman in the chest, causing his death.

Steriopoulos, for his part, said in a written statement that he was "saddened" by Luqman's "tragic death" and claims he only hit him in the leg.

Both accused deny being members of the neo-Nazi party and Steriopoulos has rejected "any ideological involvement in Golden Dawn" and allegedly condemns the party.

Both men say that they got into an argument with the victim after he blocked their path with his bicycle.

Pakistani community representative Ashlam Tzavent claimed Golden Dawn was responsible for "six or seven murders" and "dozens of attacks" that have never been prosecuted.

The trial opened on Wednesday under a heavy police presence but hearings were suspended shortly after to settle procedural matters, including to allow time for the victims' parents to arrive after their plane from Lahore was delayed.

They were expected to attend later hearings, with the trial due to last several weeks.

Golden Dawn entered the 300-seat Greek parliament for the first time after June 2012 elections with 18 deputies.

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