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Paweł Adamowicz: Polish officials call for trial over killing of Gdansk mayor

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People place candles as they mourn the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz.
People place candles as they mourn the mayor of Gdansk, Pawel Adamowicz.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Wojciech Strozyk
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Two years after the killing of the mayor of Gdansk, senior figures in Poland have questioned why no criminal trial has taken place.

Paweł Adamowicz was stabbed by an assailant on stage at a fundraising event in the city on 13 January 2019. He died of his injuries the next day. The country's interior minister, Joachim Brudzinski, described it as "an act of inexplicable barbarity."

The assassination shocked Poland, and thousands of mourners attended the popular liberal mayor's funeral, which was also broadcast on television across the country.

The suspect, a 27-year-old former convict, was overpowered and arrested by security forces at the scene immediately after the attack. On the stage, he had allegedly shouted that he was taking revenge for his prison sentence.

He has not yet stood trial for the killing.

According to Polish media, judicial authorities are still determining whether the suspect was of sound mind at the time of the attack.

On Wednesday, the former EU Council President, Donald Tusk, questioned the slowness of the legal process on Twitter.

"Two years have passed since the tragic attack on Paweł Adamowicz, and the trial of his killer has not even started," said Tusk.

"The organisers of the campaign, their political patrons, also remain unpunished, and hatred continues to pour out of the public media."

"We will not forget either the victim or the perpetrators," he added.

More than 200 Polish officials and public figures have signed a public appeal calling for the suspect to finally face the courts.

Poland's human rights commissioner, Adam Bodnar, has stated that the court's verdict could be a "symbolic act of justice and a warning" against hate speech.

Bodnar also expressed concern that, despite calls for a calm after Adamowicz’s death, "political and social mechanisms have not changed, they continue to produce hatred".

Paweł Adamowicz served as the mayor of Gdańsk for more than 20 years after his election win in 1998.

A vocal critic of the ruling conservative party's anti-immigrant policies, his killing highlighted the tensions in areas of Eastern Europe, and critics in the country have blamed politicians for heightening public hate speech.

Adamowicz had also been known for supporting a campaign to defend the rule of law in Poland against alleged efforts by the ruling Law and Justice party to control the Polish judiciary.

His widow, Magdalena Adamowicz, has since been elected as an MEP and has joined appeals for the trial of the suspect to take place.

"We know who killed my husband and how, but finally, we need to know the motive of this crime," she said in a statement.

"Because the motive is even more important than the one who holds the murder weapon in his hand," she added.