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Greek cops replaced as far-right link probed

| Monday, Sept. 23, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

ATHENS — Five senior police officers in Greece were replaced on Monday when the government ordered urgent inquiries into alleged links between the far-right Golden Dawn party and the country's police and military.

The Public Order Ministry said the heads of the police's special forces, internal security, organized crime, firearms and explosives, and a rapid-response motorcycle division had been moved to other posts pending an investigation into weekend reports in the Greek media that police provided the party with assistance in alleged criminal activity.

Golden Dawn won nearly 7 percent of the vote in general elections last year but is the subject of a criminal investigation in the murder last week of an anti-fascist rapper.

The party angrily denies any involvement in the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas. A 45-year-old man, who authorities say has identified himself as a Golden Dawn volunteer, has been arrested in the murder and remains in police custody.

The government is seeking the prosecution of members of the far-right party under the country's anti-terrorism law and is preparing a legislative amendment that would see Golden Dawn's state campaign funding suspended if its lawmakers are accused of serious offenses.

It describes the party as neo-Nazi and says it is behind a number of brutal street attacks against mostly Asian immigrants by far-right gangs.

The action was taken “to ensure the absolute objectivity” of the police inquiry, the government said. Two less senior officers were replaced, while a third was suspended, and regional police commanders of southern and central Greece resigned, citing personal reasons.

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