ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's parliament stripped legal immunities from five lawmakers from the far-right Golden Dawn party on Wednesday, clearing the way for another round of criminal charges against its members.
Police launched inquiries into whether the party was linked to a string of violent attacks after the September killing of a left-wing rapper that prosecutors said was carried out by one of the movement's supporters.
Golden Dawn, which rode a wave of anger against harsh austerity measures to become the third largest party at elections in 2012, has denied any wrongdoing and accused the government of a politically motivated crackdown.
Four of the lawmakers named on Wednesday, including the party leader's wife Eleni Zaroulia, will now be charged with belonging to a criminal organisation, said authorities.
The fifth, the party's spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, faces a lesser charge of carrying an unregistered firearm.
"Their (the government's) only purpose is to take our votes," Kasidiaris told parliament during the debate on whether to lift his immunity from prosecution.
Investigating magistrates have said they plan to charge all 18 people elected as Golden Dawn lawmakers in 2012 and other senior supporters with membership of a criminal organisation.
Leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos and five other of the party's lawmakers are already in pre-trial detention.
Reporting by Harry Papachristou