Polish mayor dies after being stabbed at charity event

The mayor of the Polish port city of Gdansk has died, a day after he was stabbed in the heart in front of hundreds of people at a charity event, local media reported.

“Despite all our efforts, we failed to save him,” Doctor Tomasz Stefaniak, director of Gdansk’s University hospital said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Anti-violence rallies are being planned nationwide after yesterday’s shock attack on Mayor Pawel Adamowicz.

Paramedics resuscitated Mr Adamowicz, 53, at the scene before taking him to hospital.

A video recording of the attack posted on YouTube showed the attacker bursting onto the podium.

After stabbing the mayor, he seized the microphone and claimed to have been wrongly jailed by the previous centrist government of the Civic Platform (PO) and tortured.

“That’s why Adamowicz dies,” the attacker said.

The attacker was apprehended by security guards and arrested by police.

One witness told broadcaster TVN that the man appeared “happy with what he had done”.

A Gdansk police spokesman said the detained man was a 27-year-old who lived in the city. 

The suspect had previously been sentenced to more than five years in prison for four armed attacks on banks in Gdansk, justice officials said.

Prosecutors said the suspect would undergo a psychological assessment due to “doubts about his sanity”.

Police were investigating how the attacker had been able to breach security to reach the podium, local police spokeswoman Joanna Kowalik-Kosinska told reporters.

“We know that he used an identifier with the inscription ‘Press’,” she said. “Now we have to establish how it was obtained, was the accreditation in his name and was he really entitled to be there at that time?”

This type of attack is rare in Poland. A similar incident occurred in 2010 when an assailant gunned down an aide at a regional office of the governing PiS, before stabbing another PiS employee, who survived.

In a post on Twitter, European Council President Donald Tusk paid tribute to Mr Adamowicz. Mr Tusk described him as a “man of solidarity and freedom”.