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Prosecutor Shoots Self in Protest

Military police standing guard outside the office where a prosecutor shot himself after speaking with the media. Lukasz Cynalewski

A Polish military prosecutor said Tuesday that he tried to commit suicide during a news conference he had called because his own work has been used to support plans to close military prosecution offices.

Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl invited reporters and TV crews to his office in the western city of Poznan on Monday to defend the work his office has done and to reject the planned reforms.

Midway through the briefing, he asked to be left alone, then shot himself in the head. People watching a live broadcast from a TVN24 camera, which had been left rolling in the room, could hear the gunshot being fired and see reporters and officials rushing to Przybyl, who underwent surgery for a facial wound later in the day. 


On Tuesday, the military prosecutor said he had intended to commit suicide but didn’t aim the gun correctly in his haste.

“I wanted to commit suicide but I aimed wrong, the shot came too soon,” Przybyl told PAP agency in a telephone interview from his hospital room.

“The shot went through the cheek, not through the head because I was in a hurry,” he said. “I was saved by a man who was adjusting the cables. I was afraid he would walk in.”

Krystyna Mackiewicz, the director of Heliodor Swiecicki Hospital, said Tuesday that Przybyl could be discharged in two days. Przybyl was questioned on Tuesday by military investigators probing the shooting, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Slawomir Schewe said.

In his news conference, Przybyl had criticized media leaks from the ongoing probe into last year’s crash that killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, mostly senior Polish officials, in the Russian city of Smolensk.

But the shooting was linked instead to a long-simmering conflict between the country’s civilian prosecutor general, Andrzej Seremet, and Poland’s chief military prosecutor, General Krzysztof Parulski. Seremet plans to bring military prosecutors under civilian authority, but has not publicly explained his reasoning.

On Tuesday, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski met separately with Seremet and Parulski in an apparent effort to discuss their differences.

Komorowski later said he saw the entire system of prosecutors’ offices in Poland as flawed.

PAP agency quoted Przybyl as saying he objects to the planned reforms and that he tried to commit suicide “in defense of the honor” of military prosecutors.

“I wanted the [military] prosecutor’s office to continue as it is and under the leadership of General Parulski” because under him all investigations will be carried out “honestly” and under no pressure, Przybyl said.

He said the plans to close military prosecutors’ offices have been sped up recently during investigations that he is leading into cases concerning alleged corruption by Poland’s military.

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