ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Three lawmakers from Greece's extremist right-wing Golden Dawn party were released from custody Wednesday pending trial, after they provided initial testimony in a criminal investigation into the party triggered by the slaying of a left-wing rapper.
The government, which has vowed to eradicate Golden Dawn, insisted the case against the Nazi-inspired party was still on track.
"This essentially changes nothing. Their charges stand, the investigation is ongoing and the evidence is being gathered," Interior Minister Yiannis Michelakis said on Skai television. "We are at the first stage of this investigation."
Golden Dawn, which the government has described as a "Nazi creation," rose from the margins of Greece's political scene to become the third most popular party in Greece amid the country's severe financial crisis. It has long been blamed for a series of violent attacks, mostly against immigrants.
Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris was released on 50,000-euro ($67,770) bail by an Athens court. No bail was set for the other two lawmakers, Ilias Panagiotaros and Nikos Michos. All three were banned from leaving the country.
They stormed out of the court building, with Kasidiaris punching a television cameraman and kicking a photographer as he went. They swore at journalists as they headed out of the court complex, and later as they left police headquarters after collecting their personal belongings.
A fourth lawmaker, Ioannis Lagos, was jailed pending trial. All of them had been testifying before an investigative magistrate in a court session that began Tuesday afternoon and ended midmorning Wednesday. All four denied the charges against them.
The head of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, who is also detained, was scheduled to testify later, while a sixth lawmaker is due to appear in court Thursday.
"There's political motivation hidden behind this," Kasidiaris' lawyer Pavlos Sarakis said of the case against his client. Sarakis was expelled from Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party after he took the case to defend the Golden Dawn spokesman.
Golden Dawn's leadership was arrested over the weekend in a crackdown sparked by last month's stabbing death of 34-year-old leftwing rapper Pavlos Fyssas. All face charges of setting up or participating in a criminal organization.
The man arrested at the scene of the stabbing identified himself to police as a member of Golden Dawn. The party has vehemently denied any role in the killing.
"It is clear that the judiciary has refused to follow the orders of a government enslaved to foreigners," the party said in an online statement after the decision to free three of the four lawmakers. "The unconstitutional, blatantly illegal government conspiracy is collapsing under the huge weight of truth and common sense."
Thirty-two arrest warrants were issued in the case, including two for police officers. Authorities have been continuing raids on the homes of police officers with suspected ties to criminal activities allegedly linked to the party.
Police said its internal affairs division had arrested a deputy police chief serving in an Athens police station and his wife, and was searching for a retired police officer and another woman on charges of abuse of power, smuggling, money laundering and issuing false certificates.
A search of the arrested officer's home and office uncovered 23,200 euros ($31,445), weapons, more than two dozen cellphones and numerous photocopies of passports, residence permits and applications for state-issued identity cards. The officer has been suspended.
Rights groups and medical charities have long warned of an increase in the viciousness and frequency of attacks attributed to Golden Dawn members or supporters. But the death of Fyssas on Sept. 17 was the most serious crime attributed directly to an alleged party member.
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