Although there was disappointment in New Democracy about judicial authorities’ decision to release on bail three of the four Golden Dawn MPs facing felony charges, the government denied rumors that the development would cost ministers their jobs.
With Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in the USA, where he had heralded the fact that his government had tackled Golden Dawn and put its leader Nikos Michaloliakos behind bars, there were indications that the premier was deeply displeased with the latest development. Public Order Minister Nikos Dendias and Justice Minister Haralambos Athanasiou were said to be the target of Samaras’s wrath. However, the government soon denied that the premier had demanded their resignations.
“I do not know if there is any intent behind these rumors but there is no such issue,” Athanasiou told reporters in Brussels, where he met European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. “The fact that Golden Dawn MPs have been released does not mean they are no longer suspects or that there are not indications they are guilty,” he added.
SYRIZA produced a relatively low-key response to Wednesday’s developments. Speaking in Brussels, leftist leader Alexis Tsipras said he had faith in the justice system to “operate beyond expediencies” when examining the case against Golden Dawn. SYRIZA spokesman Panos Skourletis stressed that the decision to release the neofascist deputies did not mean they were innocent. Leftist lawmaker Dimitris Papadimoulis accused the government of trying to serve its political interests. “If they were going to release them, why the show with the handcuffs?” he wrote on Twitter.
There was unease within PASOK at the decision to release the Golden Dawn MPs, but during a morning meeting of the party’s political council, Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos asked his colleagues to refrain from making any critical comments about the investigation in public due to fears of aggravating the situation. Venizelos, a constitutional expert, advised that the legal process still has a long way to go.