ATHENS, Greece – The Greek extreme-right party spokesman who caused an uproar last week by slapping one female politician on live TV and throwing a glass of water on another has sued the two women as well as the television channel that hosted the news show.
The move Monday by Ilias Kasidiaris, the 31-year-old spokesman for the extremist Golden Dawn party, is the latest twist in a bizarre political saga. Kasidiaris himself avoided an arrest warrant for the confrontation last Thursday, resurfacing late Sunday after the warrant had expired.
Kasidiris appeared at an Athens court Monday, flanked by other party members, to submit lawsuits against Communist Party candidate Liana Kanelli and Syriza party member Rena Dourou on charges of alleged unprovoked insults and against Antenna television for alleged illegal detention.
Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Kasidiaris after he threw water over Dourou and then slapped Kanelli hard three times across the face during a heated discussion on a morning political show Thursday. A video of that show has been widely seen on the Internet.
Under Greek law, an arrest warrant for a misdemeanor must be carried out by midnight the day after the act has occurred, in which case a trial is immediate. If the suspect is not apprehended within that time frame, the case turns into a judicial procedure in which a trial date is set, often for several months or even years later.
Kasidiaris laid low immediately after the incident, but resurfaced Sunday evening at the opening of a Golden Dawn office in an outlying part of Athens. No court date has been set yet for him.
Kasidiaris argues that he was provoked by insults during the television show and that the 58-year-old Kanelli hit him first with a newspaper.
Moments after Kasidiaris hit Kanelli, the channel cut to a commercial break and when the program resumed, Kasidiaris was no longer there. Attempts were made to hold him in an office room while the police were called, but he broke through the door and left.
He said Monday he was also suing a journalist at Antenna for "instigation to abuse of power" for allegedly provoking a prosecutor to order his arrest.
Kasidiaris had also been due to stand trial Monday in a separate case, in which he is accused of participating in a 2007 attack on a student. The case was postponed to Sept 3. In it, he faces charges of assisting in a robbery and bodily harm after his car was allegedly used in the incident.
Kasidiaris claims the accusation is politically motivated by Syriza members.
Golden Dawn, which vehemently denies the neo-Nazi label, has been accused of violent attacks against immigrants in Athens, and its members have also allegedly been involved in clashes with left-wing and anarchist groups. The party insists it is a nationalist patriotic group.
It campaigned on a platform of ridding Greece of illegal immigrants and cleaning up crime-ridden neighborhoods, and advocates mining Greece's borders to stop illegal immigration. Riding a wave of anger over how mainstream politicians have handled Greece's deep financial crisis, the party won nearly 7 percent of the vote on May 6, when no party won enough votes to form a government.
The 21 Golden Dawn deputies elected to the country's 300-member Parliament — a first for the party — took their seats for a day before parliament was dissolved ahead of a new election on June 17. Opinion polls conducted before a two-week pre-election ban projected that Golden Dawn would win enough votes to go above the 3 percent threshold to get into Parliament.