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The Mayor of Gdańsk has been Murdered During a Charity Concert

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By Olivier Bault.

This article was originally published in the French daily paper Présent.

On Sunday the 14th of January, like every year, concerts have taken place in several cities of Poland for the closing of this great fundraising event aiming to support the acquisition of medical devices for the Polish pediatric hospitals. This action day called Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy) proceeds with the help of thousands of volunteers for the fundraising and is the occasion of auctions in which objects presented for this occasion are being sold. The “finale” of these auctions was broadcasted by the public television until 2016 and since then by the private channel TVN.

This year in Gdańsk, during the finale of this Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, as a light show was closing the concert and as the Mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, was on the stage with a group of persons including children, a man clambered onto the stage and went towards Adamowicz, then stabbed him three times with a 15 cm long knife. Afterwards, he still had the time to raise his arms as a sign of victory, to grab a microphone and declared that he had been sentenced to five years in prison when the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) was ruling the country, that he had been tortured, that he was not guilty and that it was the reason why the mayor should die now. A few dozens of seconds were necessary before the security agents realised what had happened and seized the perpetrator. His unconscious victim was first rescued on the stage before being brought in a critical condition to the hospital where he died the next day despite of all the efforts of the doctors for saving his life. The Mayor’s wife who just came back from the United States and for whom Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had sent a government plane to London, has arrived after his death. Paweł Adamowicz was 53 years old and left two daughters of 8 and 15 years. The former dissident had been the Mayor of Gdańsk since 1998 and had been reelected in last November at the head of the city after having won the second ballot of the election with the support of the Liberal coalition including the Civic Platform, his former party.

His murderer, Stefan W., is a 27 years old inhabitant of Gdańsk. He had been sentenced in 2013 to five and half years in prison for four bank hold ups. He had been released in December after having served his term. While the first elements of the investigations already revealed that he had been treated for paranoid schizophrenia in prison, and while the family of the Mayor of Gdańsk as well as the Deputy-Mayor appealed not to misuse this crime in a political way, the controversy rapidly inflamed passions on internet and in the media about the respective responsibilities in the political and media community. Some Liberals and supporters of the left wished the PiS government to be considered as responsible of the assassination while some PiS politicians and the State television tried to question the statements of the current opposition.

The controversy is by the way not really new and it is not useless to remind the assassination 2010 of the parliamentary assistant Marek Rosiak in an office of the PiS in the city of Łódź by a man who claimed afterwards having wanted to kill Kaczyński and having then killed the first person he met there as he had not been able to find Jarosław Kaczyński.

Translation from French by the Visegrad Post.