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Golden Dawn spokesman claims he was provoked before live TV assault

Monday, June 11, 2012

The far-right Greek politician who slapped a woman and threw water in the face of another on live television has threatened to sue his victims, claiming they provoked his attack.

Ilias Kasidiaris, spokesman for the Golden Dawn party, has been in hiding since Thursday, when he assaulted the two leftwing politicians and stormed off the podium during a television debate.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, he said he regretted becoming involved in an incident that could damage the party's image ahead of the general election on 17 June, but his adversaries for his actions.

"The events that took place on Thursday morning on 'Antenna TV' were staged with the sole aim of provoking an extreme reaction on my part," he wrote.

"I am sorry that without intending to, I got mixed up in a case that has confused public opinion and was aimed at hitting Golden Dawn. I will go the prosecutor in person to sue those behind the illegal actions that have taken place in the last two days."

He provided no further details and no comment was available from Golden Dawn officials.

The scandal has added a further twist to the election, which could decide whether Greece stays in the euro after five years of deep recession and public anger over painful austerity measures demanded by international lenders.

Golden Dawn, a far-right, anti-immigrant party whose symbol resembles a Nazi swastika, won 7% of the vote in an inconclusive May election and entered parliament for the first time, pledging to stand up for Greeks suffering in the crisis.

The party's image has been severely dented by continuous replays of footage of the 31-year-old Kasidiaris, a former army commando, striking the middle-aged Communist party deputy Liana Kannelli three times.
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