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Greek politician who attacked rivals on TV sues victims for defamation

Petros Karadjias / AP

Greece's extreme-right Golden Dawn party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, in white, talks to media outside the prosecutor's office in Athens, June, 11, 2012.

 

A Greek far-right politician who hit a left-wing politician in the face and threw water at another during a live television talk show sued his victims for defamation on Monday.

Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman of the far-right Golden Dawn party, said he would also sue private TV station Antenna for wrongful detention after he was locked in a room in the studio following the attack until he broke down the door and escaped.


Kasidiaris shocked viewers last week with the attack on Rena Dourou, a deputy in the radical leftist Syriza party and Liana Kanelli, a veteran communist deputy, during a heated debate ahead of national elections on June 17.

On the show, a spirited discussion spiraled out of control when Kasidiaris threw a glass of water at Dourou. Shortly afterwards, Kanelli swatted Kasidiaris with a newspaper, and he responded by punching her in the face with enough force to leave her bruised.

The 31-year-old former army commando went into hiding after the assault but issued a statement at the weekend blaming the two middle-aged women for deliberately provoking him into the attack.

"I have come to the prosecutor today to file a lawsuit against Mrs. Kanelli and Mrs. Dourou for unprovoked defamation, and against TV station Antenna for my illegal detention," Kasidiaris, dressed in a white shirt and dark sunglasses, told reporters outside the court.

By lying low, Kasidiaris avoided an arrest warrant for the attack. According to Greek law, the arrest warrant for a minor crime must be carried out by midnight on the day following the incident, BBC reported.

A politician in Greece is wanted by police for his behavior on a live TV program where he threw a glass of water on a political rival then punched another. Msnbc.com's Dara Brown reports.

Golden Dawn denies being a neo-Nazi party but its image has been sullied by continuously replayed footage of the talk show incident as well as a variety of other pictures showing party members splashed with fake blood, making Nazi-style salutes or grinning next to an oven at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz.

Greek politician who attacked rivals blames them

Parties across the political spectrum condemned Kasidiaris and said his actions shed light on Golden Dawn.

"This attack is an attack against every democratic citizen,” caretaker government spokesman Dimitris Tsiodras said, according to Athens News.

The leftist Syriza party, tipped as likely to get the most votes in the coming election, said the attack showed "the real face of this criminal organization," referring to Golden Dawn.

"This young 'gentleman,' the Golden Dawn spokesman, proved today that he is a representative of a group of neo-Nazis that apart from being ultra-right are also cowards and bullies," said Fofi Gennimata, of the center-left Pasok party, according to Athens News. "We call on the people who voted for Golden Dawn to seriously rethink it."

TV show attack shows 'real face' of far-right in Greece?

Speaking at the opening of the party's offices in an Athens suburb on Sunday, Kasidiaris said he had been set up and was acting in self-defence after Kanelli threw a newspaper at him.

"I never expected that I would be hit in the face on live TV," he said. "I did what millions of Greeks would have done - when you get hit in the face you have to defend yourself."

Kasidiaris was already due to stand trial on Monday on separate charges — which he denies — of helping assailants attack an assistant university professor in 2007, but that trial was postponed until September.

Golden Dawn, which uses an ancient Greek symbol resembling the swastika as its logo, won 7 percent in the inconclusive May 6 election, promising to rid Greece of illegal immigrants and seal its borders with landmines.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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