Clashes broke out during an anti-fascist demonstration in Athens on Wednesday, a week after a fatal stabbing allegedly committed by a supporter of the extreme right-wing Golden Dawn led to a nationwide crackdown against the group.
About 30 protesters threw firebombs, rocks and bottles at riot police blocking the main avenue in front of Golden Dawn headquarters as a demonstration of several thousand people headed toward it. Police responded with volleys of tear gas and stun grenades.
The killing of anti-fascist rap singer Pavlos Fyssas on Sept. 18 sparked outrage across Greece and has led to scrutiny of the party’s activities. The suspect arrested over his death admitted to police that he had stabbed the 34-year-old and identified himself as a member of Golden Dawn, a virulently anti-immigrant party that has seen a massive rise in popularity amid Greece’s severe financial crisis.
The party has vehemently denied any role in the killing.
Although the suspect has not been officially identified in accordance with Greek law, he has been widely named by Greek media, which has also published photos of him at Golden Dawn events.
“Pavlos is alive, crush the Nazis,” the protesters chanted as they set off from the capital’s main Syntagma Square, where an earlier anti-fascist concert had been held.
In Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, about 2,000 protesters also heading to local Golden Dawn offices.
Greek media said other rallies were also planned in several other cities.
The government ordered an investigation into Golden Dawn’s activities after Fyssas’ death, with the case being handled by the Greek Supreme Court and the anti-terrorist squad under organized crime laws.
Separately, Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said on Wednesday that authorities were also investigating reports that a psychiatrist at Athens’ main state psychiatric hospital had been granting certificates for gun licenses to Golden Dawn members without conducting the required tests and that the psychiatrist had been calling for the military to take up arms against the government.
The crackdown against Golden Dawn has included raids on party offices and supporters suspected of being involved in attacks.
Police said on Wednesday that they arrested a 34-year-old in Crete after a raid on his house uncovered a replica gun, a military-style knife and a collapsible metal baton. Golden Dawn membership cards and other paraphernalia with the party logo were also found.
Golden Dawn, whose senior members have expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler, although they deny being neo-Nazi, won nearly 7 percent of the vote in last year’s general elections and hold 18 seats in the 300-member parliament.
Its members and supporters have frequently been suspected of carrying out violent attacks, mainly against immigrants.