Polish mayor stabbed at fundraiser, badly wounded
WARSAW, Poland — A convicted criminal with a knife rushed on to the stage during the finale of a charity event Sunday night and stabbed a Polish mayor in the heart and abdomen before shouting that he did it for political revenge, in an attack that left doctors fighting to save the politician’s life.
Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz grabbed his belly and collapsed in front of the audience at the “Lights to Heaven” fundraiser organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, the country’s most important charity.
Doctors transported him to Medical University of Gdansk, where he underwent five hours of surgery, said Dr. Tomasz Stefaniak, one of the doctors treating Adamowicz.
Almost seven hours after the assault, Stefaniak told reporters early Monday that “the patient is alive,” triggering applause, but added that the mayor remained “in a very serious condition.”
“The next hours will decide everything,” Stefaniak said, appealing for thoughts and prayers for the mayor.
Polish media reported that a number of political officials and Gdansk Archbishop Slawoj Leszek Glod went to the hospital during the operation.
After the knife attack, the assailant shouted from the stage that he had been wrongly imprisoned under a previous national government led by Civic Platform, a party to which the mayor formerly belonged.
Police said the suspect was a 27-year-old with a criminal record and had carried out bank robberies. A police spokesman, Mariusz Ciarka, said the attacker appeared to have mental problems. He was arrested and is under investigation.
European Council President Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who co-founded Civil Platform and is from Gdansk, wrote on Twitter: “Let’s all pray for Mayor Adamowicz. Pawel, we are with you.”
Adamowicz, 53, was part of the democratic opposition born in that city under the leadership of Lech Walesa during the 1980s.