Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

Polish mayor dies after being stabbed on stage at charity event

Pawel Adamowicz, mayor of Gdansk since 1998, was attacked by man claiming political revenge

The mayor of Gdansk in Poland has died after being stabbed in front of hundreds of people at a televised charity event.

Pawel Adamowicz, 53, was on stage during the event in aid of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity to raise money for healthcare in the city when he was attacked on Sunday evening.

He was taken to hospital where he had five hours of surgery but passed away on Monday afternoon.

"Despite all our efforts, we failed to save him," Dr Tomasz Stefaniak, director of Gdansk's University hospital said, quoted by the Polish PAP news agency.

Earlier on Monday Dr Stefaniak had said that the mayor was alive but was not able to breathe on his own and is on a life support machine.

A 27-year-old man with a criminal record has been arrested, police said.

Polish media reported that the attacker had shouted that he had been wrongly imprisoned by the previous government, which was led by Mr Adamowicz’s former party, Civic Platform.

It is believed the attacker has mental health problems and made his way on stage using a pass.

European Council President Donald Tusk, who co-founded Civic Platform, wrote on Twitter: "Paweł Adamowicz, Mayor of Gdańsk, a man of Solidarity and freedom, a European, my good friend, has been murdered. May he rest in peace."

Interior minister Joachim Brudzinski said the stabbing was an “act of inexplicable barbarity”.

While prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted that Mr Adamowicz's death was a "huge tragedy" for everyone and must be condemned.

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Mr Adamowicz was elected as mayor of Gdansk in 1998 and was a prominent member of the democratic opposition while Poland was under communist rule.

A liberal figure in Polish politics, he lent his support to LGBT and minority causes and showed solidarity with the Jewish community after Gdansk’s synagogue was attacked last year.

The head of the charity for which Mr Adamowicz was fundraising for said the attack had taken place because of an atmosphere of hate under the ruling populist Law and Justice party.

Jerzy Owsiak said he had been a target of the current government’s hateful rhetoric. Last week, the state broadcaster was forced to apologise after it depicted Mr Owsiak in an animation, which sparked an outcry over accusations of anti-Semitism.

Mr Owsiak was seen in the animation being controlled by a Civic Platform official grabbing piles of banknotes with a Star of David on one of them.

Updated: January 14, 2019 09:41 PM

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