Polish prosecutor says suicide bid aimed to expose graft

10th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

A Polish military prosecutor who survived a dramatic public suicide attempt said Tuesday his desperate act had sought to expose what he called "serious corruption" in defence procurement contracts.

Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl shot himself Monday during a break in a press conference in Poznan, western Poland, at which he had spoken about issues his office was probing, notably claims of high-level corruption in the Polish military.

"My act was influenced by the cases I am investigating: one of them is the most serious involving financial issues in the Polish military," Przybyl told Poland's PAP news agency Tuesday as he recovered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his cheek. He is expected to leave hospital within days.

Przybyl had also been investigating media leaks from an inquiry into the 2010 air crash in Russia that killed Polish president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others including the NATO member's military top brass.

Officials have said that Przybyl's home and car have been targeted by unknown assailants, and he has alleged that his dog was killed.

Przybyl also claimed there was a contract out to kill him.

"I know there was a million zloty (223,000 euros, $782,000) price on my head," he told PAP.

The colonel who has the reputation as a tough, competent investigator also said his act was intended to prevent the dismantling of the institution of military prosecutors, amid moves to cut and replace them with civilians.

"I was defending people, whom I know and who do excellent work: I wanted the prosecutor's office to survive," he said, insisting his high-level corruption probe had "sparked direct pressure to speed up steps to liquidate military prosecutors" offices.

At Monday's press conference, Przybyl had spoken out about corruption and "criminal economic organisations" in the military and flatly denied claims of illegally wiretapping journalists reporting leaks from the 2010 plane crash.

Reporters at the conference said Przybyl then asked them to leave the room so that he could take, in his words, "a break".

"We heard a loud thud and we went back into the room thinking one of the cameras had fallen over. Then we saw the prosecutor motionless on the ground in a pool of blood, with a gun beside him," one journalist told Polish television.

President Bronislaw Komorowski has described the incident as "disturbing".

© 2012 AFP

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