Polish mayor dies after stabbing on stage at charity event

Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz has died from stab wounds a day after being attacked on stage by an ex-convict at a charity event, Poland's health minister said.

Lukasz Szumowski said the doctors who were fighting to save Mr Adamowicz's life informed him the mayor had died.

Prosecutors said the man accused of stabbing the mayor is being investigated on suspicion of attempted murder and will also be subjected to a psychiatric examination.

They are also looking into the level of security at Sunday's public event, which was the 27th annual festive collection for a popular charity.

Pawel Adamowicz has served as mayor for 20 years (AP)
Pawel Adamowicz has served as mayor for 20 years (AP)

Blood donors come forward to help save stabbed Polish mayor

Earlier: Polish blood donors are coming forward in droves in a bid to save the life of Gdansk’s mayor after he was stabbed while on stage at a charity event.

Doctors operated for five hours on Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, who was stabbed in the heart and abdomen on Sunday by an ex-convict who rushed onto the stage with a knife.

The man shouted out that the attack was an act of revenge against a political party Mr Adamowicz had belonged to.

Mr Adamowicz grabbed his belly and collapsed in front of the audience at the 27th annual fundraiser organised by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.

Doctors resuscitated Mr Adamowicz on the spot and then transported him to the Medical University of Gdansk, where he underwent five hours of surgery.

One of the surgeons, Dr Tomasz Stefaniak, said Mr Adamowicz was in “very, very serious condition” after he suffered a “serious wound to the heart, a wound to the diaphragm and to the internal organs”.

He said Mr Adamowicz needed massive blood transfusions.

Dr Stefaniak said the coming hours would be decisive and asked for thoughts and prayers for the mayor, who has served since 1998.

TV footage showed people queueing up to donate blood in Gdansk. Some said they were given time off work to help save Mr Adamowicz. A rally against violence has also been planned.

Gdansk Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz, who was at the hospital during the surgery, said he was praying for a miracle.

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, the party which the mayor once belonged to.

He said his name was Stefan and that “I was jailed but innocent … Civic Platform tortured me. That’s why Adamowicz just died”.

Police said the suspect was a 27-year-old who had been recently released from prison, where he had served a term for bank robberies.

A police spokesman, Mariusz Ciarka, said the attacker appeared to have mental health problems and gained access to the area with a media badge. It is unclear how he acquired the credential.

He was arrested and is under investigation.

TVN footage showed Mr Adamowicz on stage with a sparkler in hand, telling the audience that it had been a “wonderful day” before the attacker came towards him.

A man brandishes what appears to be a knife just after stabbing Mr Adamowicz (AP)
A man brandishes what appears to be a knife just after stabbing Mr Adamowicz (AP)

The mayor had been on the streets of his Baltic port city earlier in the day collecting money for the nationwide charity that supports Poland’s financially-strapped hospitals.

European Council president Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister who co-founded Civil Platform and is from Gdansk, tweeted: “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. Mr Owsiak and some opposition politicians blamed what they described as an atmosphere of hate under the ruling Law and Justice party for the attack.

Mr Adamowicz, 53, was part of the democratic opposition formed in Gdansk under the leadership of Lech Walesa during the 1980s. After leaving Civic Platform, he was re-elected to a sixth term as an independent candidate in the autumn.

As mayor, he has been a progressive voice, supporting LGBT rights and tolerance for minorities. He marched in last year’s gay pride parade, a rare action for a mayor in Poland.

He also showed solidarity with the Jewish community when the city’s synagogue had its windows broken last year, strongly denouncing the vandalism.

Earlier: Doctors fight to save Polish mayor stabbed on stage at charity event

The mayor of a Polish city has undergone five hours of surgery after being stabbed on stage during the finale of a charity fundraiser, doctors have said.

Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz grabbed his stomach and collapsed in front of the audience at the Lights to Heaven fundraiser organised 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, Dr Tomasz Stefaniak, one of the doctors treating Mr Adamowicz, said.

Almost seven hours after the assault, Dr Stefaniak told reporters early on 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,” Dr Stefaniak said, appealing for thoughts and prayers for the popular mayor.

Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz, right, speaks to an audience shortly before he was stabbed (Anna Rezulak/KFP/AP)
Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz, right, speaks to an audience shortly before he was stabbed (Anna Rezulak/KFP/AP)

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.

He said his name was Stefan and that “I was jailed but innocent… Civic Platform tortured me. That’s why Adamowicz just died.”

Police said the suspect was a 27-year-old with a criminal record.

A police spokesman, Mariusz Ciarka, said the attacker appeared to have mental health problems and gained access to the area with a media badge.

He was arrested and is under investigation.

The next hours will decide everything

TVN footage showed Mr Adamowicz on stage with a sparkler in hand telling the audience that it had been a “wonderful day” and then the attacker came toward him.

The mayor had been on the streets of his Baltic port city earlier in the day 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.”

Mr Adamowicz, 53, has been mayor of Gdansk since 1998.

He was part of the democratic opposition born in that city under the leadership of Lech Walesa during the 1980s.

After leaving Civic Platform, he was re-elected to a sixth term as an independent candidate in the autumn.

“Horrified by the brutal attack on Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz,” said Frans Timmermans, a Dutch politician and leading European Union official. “Hope and pray he will recover. A great leader of his city and a true humanitarian.”

The Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity raises money to buy state-of-the-art medical equipment for Poland’s cash-strapped state hospitals, mostly for children.

- Press Association

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