Greek neo-Nazi MP on trial over armed robbery

A senior lawmaker in Greece's neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn went on trial at an Athens district court on Thursday on charges of being an accomplice in a 2007 armed robbery.

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

Around 100 Golden Dawn supporters filled the Athens courtroom for the beginning of the trial, which has been repeatedly delayed.

Outside the courthouse, some 50 people held a protest against the group.

"I have confidence in the Greek justice system and will take my place on the defendant's bench hoping to be judged fairly on the basis of real acts and not on my political activities," local media quoted Kassidiaris as saying.

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.