Greek far-right lawmaker held, awaiting extradition ruling

International
Ioannis Lagos

FILE – In this Monday, Oct. 12, 2020 file photo, European Parliament member Ioannis Lagos, second right, uses his mobile phone outside a court, waiting for his sentencing in Athens. European Union lawmakers voted Tuesday, April 27, 2021 to lift the parliamentary immunity of Greek far-right deputy Ioannis Lagos, who has been sentenced to 13 years in prison in Greece for being a leading member of a criminal organization. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A Greek far-right member of the European Parliament refused Wednesday to be extradited from Belgium to Greece to serve a 13-year prison sentence for being a high-ranking member of a criminal organization, the Brussels prosecutor’s office said.

Ioannis Lagos has been living in the Belgian capital, Brussels, since a Greek court in October convicted him and 17 other former Greek parliament members from the extreme-right Golden Dawn party of leading a criminal organization, or being members in it.

Lagos was taken into custody on Tuesday after the European Parliament voted to remove his immunity, paving the way for him to be sent to Athens on a European arrest warrant. He appeared before a Belgian judge on Wednesday morning.

The Brussels prosecutor’s office said in a statement that Lagos “did not accept to be handed over to the Greek authorities. The judge decided to place him in detention.”

It said the court will decide within the next 15 days whether Lagos should be extradited.

Golden Dawn was founded as a Nazi-inspired group in the 1980s. It saw a surge in popularity during Greece’s 2010-2018 financial crisis, gaining parliamentary representation between 2012 and 2019.

The five-year trial was launched following the 2013 murder of rapper and left-wing activist Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter.

The other convicted Golden Dawn members are already in jail, except for one who escaped and is officially a fugitive.

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