Alternate Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas on Wednesday welcomed the breakthrough in the police investigation of an extreme-right militant group, hailing it as a “victory for the democratically organised state”.
“Illegal fascist violence will not go unpunished,” Toskas underlined in a statement to the newspaper “Avghi” regarding the 11 arrests made in connection with the case.
He said they were the result of systematic and persistent efforts by the Greek police and that this was the message that the ministry was sending to all: “Through our persistent work we hope to create a shield of legality and protection for citizens’ lives.”
According to the police officers conducting the investigation, the case did not close with the 11 arrests since they are still waiting for the forensics lab to release the results of an examination of the computers and other digital devices found during the 12 house searches.
A senior police source told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA) that the suspected members of the organisation are “extremist elements” and neo-Nazis who were preparing to further step up their action when the arrests interrupted their plans.
Calling itself C18, the group launched its action in 2015 with mainly arsonist attacks on locations frequented by anti-establishment groups, squats and migrants using petrol bombs, though police believe they were on the verge of “graduating” to more hard-core attack methods after finding 50 kilos of ammonium nitrate (which can be converted into the explosive ANFO by mixing it with diesel oil) in one of the houses searched in Menidi.
Police described the group as “particularly violent and dangerous” Nazi sympathisers and racists, whose symbols contain references to Adolf Hitler and the SS. The group has put up several posts claiming responsibility for attacks and often took video of its actions. These posts indicate that the group has carried out more than 30 attacks, of which 20 have been confirmed by the counter-terrorism squad.
Among those arrested is the alleged leader of the criminal group, based in Ioannina, who is accused of having a leadership role and posting about the attacks on the internet. Also believed to have a senior role in the organisation is a 30-year-old lawyer, who is among those arrested.