WARSAW – The mayor of Gdansk, Poland, one of the leading liberal critics of the right-wing populist government, died Monday following stabbings fired at a public charity concert Sunday night, the minister said. Health to the press.
Mayor Pawel Adamowicz, 53, mayor of the northern port city since 1998, was known for his support for gay rights. He had campaigned for the rights of immigrants in a country whose ruling party relied heavily on anti-immigrant rhetoric.
"It was impossible to defeat everything that had happened to him," Health Minister Lukasz Szumowski said of the stabbing. "God gives peace to his soul."
The attack has astonished a politically divided country more and more and the rallies planned Monday night to condemn the violence and hate speech should attract a large crowd.
Police officials said the attacker was arrested at the scene and described him as a 27-year-old man suffering from mental disorders, with a history of violence and no obvious political motive.
The attack took place at the largest charity event in the country, organized every year to raise funds to buy medical equipment. It was just before 8 pm Sunday, tens of thousands of people had gathered for a promotional concert of this charity.
A countdown had begun to signal the start of an extravagant laser light show called "Light to the Sky." A second before the start of the fireworks, a young man burst onto the scene and stabbed Mr. Adamowicz several times, including the heart. .
The assailant then circled the podium with a black knife and shouted that he had been thrown into jail on Civic Platform, the political party to which the Liberal mayor once belonged.
"That's why I killed Adamowicz," the man shouted.
Mr. Adamowicz's injuries included "a deep wound to the heart, an injury to the diaphragm and other internal organ injuries," said doctors at the Gdansk Medical University. Despite their efforts to save him, he died Monday afternoon.
As the city began to mourn, Poland wondered whether the toxic and aggressive tone of the political debate in the country could have triggered the attack.
The Conservative government party was quick to condemn the assault.
"We generally disagree with Mayor Pawel Adamowicz with regard to the political views on how to run Poland, but today we are unreservedly with him and his relatives, as are I, I 'm hope, all our compatriots, " President Andrzej Duda wrote on Twitter after the attack.
The government, of which Mr Adamowicz was a fierce critic, sent a plane to London to bring back the mayor's wife to Gdansk.
Aleksandra Skorupka-Kaczmarek, deputy mayor of Gdansk, said Monday morning that Adamowicz's friends and family had trouble understanding what had happened.
"We are all wondering how to attack an innocent man," she said. "Eliminate the aggression of our public life, of our political life. Do not escalate this violence. Please, do not use this tragedy for political and ideological purposes. "
After the attack, the police arrested a man who had threatened on Twitter the mayors of two other Polish cities, Wroclaw and Poznan. The recent elections showed a growing and growing political gap between voters in rural areas and small towns, who largely support the ruling party, the Law and Justice Party, and those in big cities, who generally oppose the government.
Prior to last October's local elections, All-Polish Youth, a far-right organization, issued fake death certificates for 11 liberal politicians, most of whom were associated with Civic Platform, including Mr. Adamowicz. The prosecutor's office refused to investigate this initiative, calling it "expression of opinion" and not "incitement to hatred".
Mr. Adamowicz opposed this decision and said last week: "It was not a regular expression of opinion; they really crossed the line. I will not leave it like that. "
Residents of Gdansk and Warsaw have planned to hold rallies Monday afternoon against violence and the use of aggressive language by Polish politicians.
Duda called for a protest on Tuesday and invited leaders from all major political parties to join him.
The charity event organized on Sunday is the largest annual fundraiser in Poland, organized since 1993 by the Christmas Charity Grand Orchestra. Over the years, the organization has raised approximately $ 266 million to provide medical equipment to underfunded Polish hospitals.
This year's event was to break the record for money raised last year.
"It's a wonderful time to spread the good," said Adamowicz a few moments before being attacked. "You are all wonderful. Gdansk is the most amazing city. "
After stabbing the victim and claiming that the security was inadequate, the president of the foundation, Jerzy Owsiak, resigned.
"This hatred, deeply rooted in people, has exploded in an extreme way," Mr Owsiak, a fierce critic of the ruling party and numerous attacks by right-wing politicians, told reporters. "I am fighting against those who have been threatening me for 25 years. The Polish judiciary and police are completely powerless. "
Police said the suspect was recently released from prison after serving more than five years in prison for several robberies in a bank. They said that the man, identified only as Slawomir. W. had access to the scene with a badge, but it was unclear where he had gotten it.
Mr. Adamowicz, who is survived by his wife Magdalena and his two daughters, preached the value of tolerance and presented his city as a model for the gradual integration of immigrants. He participated in the Gay Pride protests in Gdansk and expressed his solidarity with the Jewish community in the city after vandals throwing stones broke the windows of a local synagogue.
He studied law at Gdansk University. As a student, he participated in the resistance to democracy against the communist regime in his city.