A man with a knife has rushed on to the stage during the finale of a charity event and stabbed a Polish mayor in the abdomen, leaving him in very serious condition.
- Pawel Adamowicz was stabbed in the abdomen while onstage during a fundraiser
- The suspect shouted he’d been wrongfully imprisoned by the Mayor’s former party
- Mr Adamowicz, a progressive voice in Polish politics, has been Mayor of Gdansk since 1998
Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz grabbed his belly and collapsed onstage during the “Lights to Heaven” fundraiser organised by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, Poland’s most important charity.
Polish President Andrzej Duda said he was informed that “doctors succeeded in reanimating the heart of the seriously injured Mayor Pawel Adamowicz and there is hope, but his condition is very difficult”.
He called for people to pray for the Mayor.
Polish broadcaster TVN said 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.
The suspected attacker was arrested.
TVN broadcast footage of the perpetrator, just after the attack yelling that his name was Stefan and that “I was jailed but innocent Civic Platform tortured me”.
Police said the suspect was a 27-year-old with a criminal record and had carried out bank robberies.
Police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said the attacker gained access to the area with a media badge.
Radio Gdansk said Mr Adamowicz was stabbed in the area of his heart, but did not cite its source, while Poland daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita described the Mayor’s condition as “critical”, citing unidentified sources.
A spokesman for the hospital called his condition “very serious”.
TVN footage showed Mr Adamowicz on stage just before the attack with a sparkler in hand telling the audience that it had been a “wonderful day”, and then the attacker coming toward him.
Mr Adamowicz had been on the streets of his city on Sunday collecting money for the charity, along with volunteers around the country.
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.”
The head of the charity, Jerzy Owsiak, is a liberal critic of Poland’s current right-wing Government.
He blamed what he described as an atmosphere of hate under the ruling Law and Justice party for the attack on the Mayor.
Mr Owsiak referred to being personally depicted in a defamatory manner in an animation that ran on state TV last week and that also had anti-Semitic overtones.
The animation showed Mr Owsiak as a clay figure being manipulated by a leading Civic Platform official who seized piles of cash that he collected.
A Star of David was on one of the banknotes.
The broadcaster apologised after the animation triggered an outcry.