Greek police on Thursday arrested the deputy head of the neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn who had escaped justice since being sentenced to more than 13 years in prison in October, a police source said.
Christos Pappas has been on the run since landmark trial convicted over 50 Golden Dawn defendants on charges including leading a criminal organization, murder, assault and illegal possession of weapons .
Sentenced to prison for his leading role in the management of the outfit, Pappas, 59, was arrested in a house in the Athenian district of Zografou, a police source told AFP.
A police statement said Pappas would be taken to a prosecutor on Friday.
A 52-year-old woman who allegedly hid it in her home was also arrested, the statement said.
The mustached former furniture store owner, whose lieutenant-general father was part of the 1967 coup that installed a seven-year dictatorship in Greece, Pappas was considered a leading Golden Dawn ideologue.
He is a notorious fan of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and a collector of fascist memorabilia.
Pappas was the last Golden Dawn executive to escape justice, after former senior member Ioannis Lagos, member of the European Parliament, was extradited from Belgium in May.
He had made it clear through his legal representation that he had no intention of surrendering, hoping to obtain a lighter sentence on appeal.
Pappas also escaped arrest in 2013, when senior members of Golden Dawn were arrested following the murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas – the crime that led to the downfall of the organization.
At the time, police searching Pappas’ home found swastika flags, two German army helmets and bottles stamped with images of Benito Mussolini.
The Golden Dawn trial, which began in 2015, has been described as one of the most important in Greek political history.
The court admitted that the openly xenophobic and anti-Semitic group was operating under military-style leadership that encouraged the beating of migrants and political opponents.
Brass knuckles, pliers, knives
Prosecutors explained how Golden Dawn set up militias that roamed the streets, often armed with brass knuckles, pliers and knives.
Other crimes linked to the group include the murder of a Pakistani migrant and the beatings of four Egyptian fishermen in 2012 and a group of communist trade unionists in 2013.
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The organization’s founder and longtime leader Nikos Michaloliakos was also sentenced to more than 13 years in prison, along with several other senior party leaders.
The former fringe party won 18 seats in parliament in 2012 after harnessing anti-austerity and anti-migrant anger during Greece’s decade-long debt crisis.
At the height of its power in 2013, the party won 10 percent of the polls, making it the third most popular party in Greece.
But its influence began to wane when the group’s criminal activities came to light during testimony at trial.
He did not win a single seat in the last legislative elections in 2019.