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Court acquits Greek neo-Nazi MP in armed robbery case

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

An Athens court on Thursday acquitted a senior lawmaker in Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn of involvement in a 2007 armed robbery, saying the evidence against him was not strong enough.

The court said Ilias Kassidiaris, 33, was found innocent because of "doubts" regarding his participation in the hold-up.

Kassidiaris, an MP and spokesman for Golden Dawn, had been accused of being an accomplice by providing the getaway car to five men who attacked a student at a university near Athens with knives and bats and stole his wallet.

The prosecutor had conceded that the testimony against him was "inaccurate" and "contradictory".

Around 100 Golden Dawn supporters attended the trial, while outside about 50 people gathered in protest at Golden Dawn.

Before his acquittal, Kassidiaris was quoted by local media as saying he hoped "to be judged fairly on the basis of real acts and not on my political activities".

Golden Dawn, formerly on the fringe of Greek politics, has seen its ratings soar since last year in a country weary of austerity and political corruption.

The party saw 18 deputies elected to parliament in June for the first time in its history and is the third most popular party in opinion polls.

Kassidiaris shot to notoriety last year when he slapped a left-wing member of parliament in the face and poured a glass of water in the face of another during a television debate ahead of the legislative elections.

In October, parliament lifted his immunity so he could be prosecuted, along with two other Golden Dawn MPs who are suspected of abuse of office and destruction of property in attacks against immigrant traders in the Athens area in September 2012.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130307/court-acquits-greek-neo-nazi-mp-armed-robbery-case