Arrest made as mayor of Gdańsk, Poland stabbed on stage

Monday, January 14, 2019

An individual has been arrested after Paweł Adamowicz, mayor of the Polish city of Gdańsk, was stabbed last night whilst on stage at a fundraising event. He died today.

We couldn’t win

—Łukasz Szumowski on the failed efforts to save the mayor's life

Reports on the implement used vary between a knife and a "sharp tool". The attacker is reported to have jumped on stage during the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity and claimed he was wrongfully imprisoned under Adamowicz's former party Civic Platform's time in government. Adamowicz was an early supporter of democracy, and has been mayor since 1998.

Ex-Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the current President of the European Council, wrote "Let's all pray for Mayor Adamowicz. Paweł, we are with you." Tusk, a founding Civic Platform member, is from Gdańsk. Interior Minister Joachim Brudziński called the stabbing "an act of inexplicable barbarity." He said "I can’t find the words, an explanation, for this kind of act. Especially since the finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity has for the last 27 years always been associated with good, with something joyful, positive."

The fundraiser was intending this year to obtain money for children's hospitals to buy equipment. It raises money annually to assist the nation's medical services.

Brudziński said Adamowicz required resuscitation, and was in a "serious" condition; TVN24 reported he received surgery. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki tweeted "We are with Mayor Adamowicz in our thoughts and prayers." President Andrzej Duda remarked, "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."

Adamowicz from file, last year.
Image: Rudolf H. Boettcher.

Duda told local media Adamowicz's heart was restarted by doctors "and there is hope, but his condition is very difficult." Police spokesman Mariusz Ciarka said a press badge was used by the assailant, reported by The Guardian as convicted of assaults and by Associated Press of bank robberies, to gain entry. The detained suspect's identity is restricted to 'Stefan W' owing to Polish privacy legislation.

Adamowicz was taken to the Medical University of Gdańsk, where Dr. Tomasz Stefaniak was met with applause early today upon announcing to journalists Adamowicz remained alive. "The next hours will decide everything," Stefaniak said. Politicians and the Archbishop of Gdańsk, Sławoj Leszek Głódź, were reported by local media to have visited the hospital while Adamowicz received emergency surgery.

Adamowicz subsequently was announced to have died. Health Minister Łukasz Szumowski said "We couldn’t win," and the city flag is at half-mast. Gdańsk residents donated blood by the hundreds today in a bid to assist. Vigils nationwide this evening were attended by thousands.

Adamowicz, 53, has supported LGBT rights and the inclusion of minority groups. He recently condemned anti-semitism after vandalism against a synagogue in the city. Adamowicz was at the event after collecting money for the organisation in Gdańsk's streets alongside volunteers nationwide.

A potential charge of murder against Stefan W carries a possible life sentence. Prosecutor Krzysztof Sierak told reporters today psychiatric assessments will be carried out to confirm if Stefan W is fit for trial.