Greek far-right lawmaker arrested on treason-linked charges
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek anti-terrorism police arrested an extreme far-right lawmaker on treason-linked criminal charges Monday, more than two days after he evaded arrest by speeding past a series of police highway checkpoints.
Constantinos Barbaroussis was charged in Athens with committing preparatory acts for high treason over his exhortations last week for the armed forces to arrest Greece’s leadership. In urging the action, Barbaroussis said it would hinder the prime minister’s deal to end a longstanding dispute over neighboring Macedonia’s name.
The preliminary agreement was signed Sunday, and full ratification will take months.
Barbaroussis subsequently retracted his remarks, which he said were misinterpreted. His lawyer, Panagiotis Koradzopoulos said the charges were “excessive.”
“It was an unfortunate choice of words ... (but) which clearly were not such as to result in the crimes he is accused of,” Koradzopoulos said Monday.
Police said Barbaroussis did not resist during his arrest at a house in the northern Athens suburb of Penteli. He will remain in police custody until Wednesday, when he is to appear before an examining magistrate.
Barbaroussis was elected as a lawmaker with the Nazi-inspired Golden Dawn party, which ejected him for his comments made Friday during a parliamentary debate linked with the Macedonia deal.
His calls for the military to arrest Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the president and defense minister sparked outrage in parliament. Golden Dawn’s other lawmakers — who laughed and applauded during Barbaroussis’ remarks — were expelled from the debate.
Barbaroussis disappeared after the incident and was spotted speeding in his parliament-issued car on a highway west of Athens late Friday. Police said he drove through the police checkpoints at a speed of over 180 kilometers (112 miles) per hour in pouring rain.
He also faces lesser charges of failing to cooperate with police and traffic code violations.
Arrests of Greek lawmakers on criminal charges were unheard-of until the rise of Golden Dawn on a nationalist, anti-immigration and anti-bailout platform amid Greece’s financial crisis.
The party’s leadership and several lawmakers were arrested in 2013 after the murder of a left-wing activist by a party member. They since have been freed due to delays in the trial process. Barbaroussis has also been charged in that case.