Police shake-up in Greece after neo-Nazi murder

Greek police on Monday announced a broad shake-up following last week's murder of an anti-fascist musician by an alleged member of neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, axing senior officers and announcing an internal probe.

The police said two regional supervisors for southern and central Greece had stepped down as an inquiry was underway into possible links between the police department and Golden Dawn.

The police also said a number of senior officers on the island of Evia were suspended after failing to investigate a Golden Dawn office near a local police station where weapons were allegedly kept.

The department's internal affairs division was also tasked with determining whether officers had participated in illegal Golden Dawn activities.

And nearly a dozen other senior officers switched posts, including the heads of the anti-terrorist squad, the organised crime squad and the guns and explosives squad, police said.

The fatal stabbing of 34-year-old hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas on September 18 has sparked street protests and prompted authorities to take a harder stance against Golden Dawn, which had already been linked with migrant assaults that it officially denies.

Several of its lawmakers have also been involved in violent incidents and have yet to face justice.

Capitalising on a rise in social tension in the debt-stricken country, Golden Dawn was first elected to parliament last year with nearly seven percent of the vote and 18 seats out of an overall 300.

The government is now trying to find a way to deal with the neo-Nazi party, which so far has benefitted from a law granting elected MPs immunity from prosecution.

Golden Dawn's popularity has appeared to suffer a blow following Fyssas's murder.

A Monday poll in pro-government daily Eleftheros Typos showed its approval ratings had dropped to 5.8 percent, compared to 8.3 percent before last week's murder.

Prior to the assassination, various polls indicated that Golden Dawn's popularity had climbed as high as 13 percent. Even now it remains the country's third most popular party.

The musician's killer, 45-year-old truck driver George Roupakias, has confessed to the crime but claims he was acting in self-defence.

He has been charged with voluntary manslaughter and illegal possession of a weapon.

Fyssas, who wrote music under the nickname Killah P, was fatally stabbed outside a cafe in the working-class Athens district of Keratsini.

Golden Dawn quickly denied links with the alleged killer, but pictures soon surfaced of Roupakias participating in party activities and members of his family reportedly worked for the organisation.