Gdańsk mayor stabbed on stage dur­ing char­ity event in Poland

The Guardian Australia - - Politics / World News - Chris­tian Davies in War­saw

The mayor of the north­ern Pol­ish city of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamow­icz, was stabbed on Sun­day evening in an ap­par­ent as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt in front of thou­sands of peo­ple dur­ing a char­ity con­cert.

Adamow­icz, who has served as mayor of Gdańsk since 1998, was re­sus­ci­tated at the scene and rushed to a nearby hospi­tal where he un­der­went five hours of surgery. Doc­tors de­scribed his con­di­tion as “crit­i­cal” and “se­ri­ous”.

One of the sur­geons, Dr To­masz Ste­fa­niak, said Adamow­icz suf­fered a “se­ri­ous wound to the heart, a wound to the di­aphragm and to the in­ter­nal or­gans” and had needed a huge amount of blood. Gdansk is hold­ing a blood col­lec­tion for Adamow­icz on Mon­day and a rally against vi­o­lence is also planned.

Adamow­icz is a pow­er­ful lib­eral voice in a coun­try that has been gov­erned by the rightwing Law and Jus­tice party since 2015. He is best known in Poland and in­ter­na­tion­ally as a staunch sup­porter of LGBT rights and the rights of mi­grants and refugees dur­ing a pe­riod of ris­ing anti-mi­grant sen­ti­ment. “I am a Euro­pean so my na­ture is to be open,” Adamow­icz told the Guardian in 2016. “Gdańsk is a port and must al­ways be a refuge from the sea.”

In­te­rior min­is­ter Joachim Brudz­iński de­scribed the in­ci­dent as “an at­tack of in­ex­pli­ca­ble bar­bar­ity”. Pol­ish pres­i­dent An­drzej Duda said: “To­day I am un­con­di­tion­ally with him and his loved ones, just as I hope all of us com­pa­tri­ots are. I pray for his re­turn to health and full strength.”

“Shocked to hear of the at­tack on Paweł Adamow­icz, Mayor of Gdańsk, this evening,” the mayor of Lon­don, Sadiq Khan, wrote on Twit­ter. “Send­ing best wishes for his swift re­cov­ery, and sol­i­dar­ity to the city he leads, his fam­ily and sup­port­ers.”

Pol­ish me­dia re­ports quot­ing po­lice sources have named the al­leged as­sailant as Ste­fan W, a 27-year-old from Gdańsk with a record of vi­o­lent crime. Pol­ish law re­stricts the sur­names of peo­ple ac­cused of a crime be­ing re­ported.

Video footage of the in­ci­dent shows the as­sailant ad­dress­ing the crowd from a mi­cro­phone on the stage. He is re­ported as say­ing: “Hello! Hello! My name is Ste­fan. I sat in­no­cent in prison, I sat in­no­cent in prison. Civic Plat­form tor­tured me, and that’s why Adamow­icz is dead.”

Adamow­icz was a mem­ber of Poland’s pro-Euro­pean Civic Plat­form, which gov­erned Poland be­tween 2007 and 2015, be­fore leav­ing the party to fight lo­cal elec­tions as an in­de­pen­dent. It is un­der­stood that Ste­fan W was con­victed of a se­ries of vi­o­lent as­saults and sen­tenced to prison in 2014.

Ac­cord­ing to po­lice sources quoted by Pol­ish news broad­caster TVN24, the as­sailant is un­der­stood to have been plan­ning the at­tack for some time.

The fact that the as­sailant was able not only to gain ac­cess to the stage and to at­tack the mayor but also to ad­dress the crowd in the af­ter­math has raised se­ri­ous ques­tions about se­cu­rity, which was pro­vided by a pri­vate firm.

The at­tack hap­pened dur­ing the cul­mi­na­tion of the an­nual Great Orches­tra of Christ­mas fes­tiv­i­ties, a na­tion­wide char­ity drive for equip­ment to treat chil­dren in state-run hos­pi­tals. The char­ity has raised more than 951 mil­lion złoty (£200m) since it was founded 26 years ago. Con­certs were be­ing held for the char­ity across the coun­try.

Pho­to­graph: Bar­tosz Bańka/Agencja Gazeta/Reuters

Paweł Adamow­icz.

An am­bu­lance be­lieved to be car­ry­ing theGdańsk mayor, Paweł Adamow­icz, to hospi­tal.Pho­to­graph: Adam Warżawa/EPA

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