Far-right Greek MEP Ioannis Lagos detained in Brussels

Golden Dawn member fled to Belgium to avoid serving 13-year prison sentence

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 12, 2020 Independent European parliamentarian MP Ioannis Lagos, a top Golden Dawn organiser who defected from the party last year in 2019, after winning a European parliament seat, leaves the courtroom in Athens. Greek MEP Ioannis Lagos, a former leading member of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, was arrested in Belgium on April 27, 2021 hours after the European Parliament lifted his immunity, Greek police said. / AFP / LOUISA GOULIAMAKI

A far-right MEP sentenced to 13 years in prison by a Greek court for his role in the Golden Dawn party was detained by the Belgian authorities before his likely deportation to Greece.

MEPs overwhelmingly voted to strip Ioannis Lagos of his parliamentary immunity on Tuesday.

Last October he was convicted of being a leading figure in Golden Dawn, which is linked to acts of racist and political violence.

But on the day of the verdict, Lagos took advantage of the protection afforded to him as an MEP and fled Greece for Brussels.

Lagos, 48, was one of dozens of Golden Dawn members convicted, including 18 former members of the Greek parliament. He defected from the party soon after his election in 2019.

“I am in a Belgian police car. Thieves, atheists and anti-Greeks take me to prison. I remain faithful to Christ and Greece. I am proud that I never bowed,” he wrote on Twitter after being detained.

Golden Dawn gained popularity during Greece's 2010-2018 financial crisis, and won parliamentary representation between 2012 and 2019.

The five-year trial began after the 2013 murder of rapper and left-wing activist Pavlos Fyssas, who was stabbed to death by a Golden Dawn supporter.

The other convicted Golden Dawn members are already in jail, except for Christos Pappas, who escaped and is on the run.

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