On Thursday – after a trial lasting almost a year and 25 hearings – the District Court in Gdańsk will pass a verdict in the case of Stefan W., accused of murdering the mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz. The prosecution is asking for a life sentence for him. The decision will not be final.
Stefan W. is accused of committing murder with direct intent as a result of a motivation that deserves special condemnation, as well as of committing the crime of forcing another person to behave in a certain way. Both crimes were allegedly committed by the accused under conditions of recidivism. He faces from 12 years to life imprisonment.
The District Court in Gdańsk will announce the verdict in this case after 10.
Murder on stage, during the final of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity
President Adamowicz was assassinated on January 13, 2019 at Targ Węglowy in Gdańsk. The 27th Finale of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity was held there at that time. Adamowicz, then the mayor of Gdańsk for 20 years, has participated in the event for years and – as in previous years – spoke on stage.
– Gdańsk is generous, Gdańsk shares its good, Gdańsk wants to be a city of solidarity. For all this, I would like to thank you very much, because you threw money in the streets and squares of Gdańsk, you were volunteers. This is a wonderful time of sharing goodness. You are loved, Gdańsk is the most wonderful city in the world. Thank you! said the local government official. These were his last words spoken in public.
Moments later, Stefan W. attacked him on stage. When he ran in, the countdown of Lights to Heaven, the tradition of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, was in progress and sparklers flashed. The attacker ran up to the president and struck him three times with a knife. The next day – Monday, January 14, 2019 – despite resuscitation and several hours of surgery Pawel Adamowicz died in the hospital. He was 53 years old.
He came out of prison and killed
After the attack, Stefan W. walked around the stage for several dozen seconds. He took the party host’s microphone and shouted to the crowd: “Hello! Hello! My name is Stefan (her name was mentioned – ed.), I was sitting innocent in prison, I was sitting innocent in prison! civil Platform tortured me, that’s why Adamowicz died!”
A few weeks earlier – at the beginning of December 2018, Stefan W. left prison. He was serving a 5.5-year sentence for robbing small bank branches. He had a reputation for being aggressive and unpredictable. He had also previously announced that he was planning a crime that would make him famous.
The process on this launched at the end of March 2022. W. claimed his innocence in court, although the moment of the attack was seen by thousands of people – gathered in the square in Gdańsk and in front of TV monitors.
The prosecution wants a life sentence
The trial on the assassination of the president ended on Monday, March 13 in the District Court in Gdańsk. In closing speeches, the prosecutor, Agnieszka Nickel-Rogowska, who was prosecuting the case, was the first to speak. She demanded life imprisonment for the accused and the possibility of applying for parole only after 40 years. Punishment, according to her, should take place in a therapeutic system, i.e. in a prison hospital. According to her, the accused does not deserve a lesser sentence.
She also demanded compensation for members of Paweł Adamowicz’s family: PLN 100,000 each. PLN for daughters and wife and 60 thousand each. PLN for the mother of Paweł Adamowicz and his brother – Piotr Adamowicz. She said she was also seeking damages in the amount of $10,000. PLN for the master of ceremonies Andrzej S.
– Stefan W.’s action was characterized by exceptional brutality, drastic nature and the overall circumstances indicating that the victim was inflicted much more suffering than was necessary to overcome her resistance – said prosecutor Nickel-Rogowska. She noted that “this motivation (…) causes strong repulsive reactions in society, such as indignation, condemnation and anger.”
The widow’s voice
The attorneys of the auxiliary prosecutors acceded to the prosecutor’s request. Closing speeches were also delivered by members of Paweł Adamowicz’s family, who are auxiliary prosecutors in the case. Piotr Adamowicz stated that the murder of his brother was a “public execution”.
Magdalena Adamowicz, wife of the murdered president, appeared for the first time at Stefan W.’s trial. She said she was in the courtroom “to demand justice.”
– After delivering a previously prepared political manifesto, the accused lies down on the stage and waits calmly with his arms spread wide. Is this how an insane person behaves? Running amok? Unaware of what she’s doing? No, only a man who is fully aware of what he has just done and what is about to happen to him acts in this way, and he is threatened for this act – said Paweł Adamowicz’s widow.
And she added: – He is guilty of murder committed with winter blood on my husband. And therefore he must be met with a just and severe punishment. The culprit of this crime did not show remorse, did not apologize and did not ask for forgiveness. His current attitude, which is an attempt to exclude blame for the committed crime, additionally causes pain for me, our daughters, the whole family, many friends as well as the inhabitants of Gdańsk and Gdańsk.
Hope for a harsh sentence
– The murder of Paweł ruined our world, our sense of security and the joy of life. It caused deep depression, trauma. (…) The life of our loving family has changed forever. I can’t answer my daughters questions: “Why did the killer stab dad?”, “Did dad hurt a lot?”. I cannot express in words what we experienced then and still experience – emphasized Magdalena Adamowicz.
She added that the accused deserved “the severest punishment” and she would not have appeared in court if it had not been for the accused’s lack of remorse.
“I have no hatred for the man who killed my husband, but I am asking with all my might that this man be brought to justice. Because the hope for a just verdict was and still is what protected me from hatred. I am asking, my daughters are asking. The hope of justice is a fragile raft on which we have held each other since the murder of Paweł. Please don’t break it, she pleaded.
“The most sane in Gdańsk” and the opinions of experts
The accused Stefan W. also spoke – I would like to say that there is no evidence. (…) I plead not guilty. God knows it’s not my fault,” he said. He also emphasized that he is fully sane. – The most sane in Gdańsk. I have never smoked or drank alcohol in my life.
In mid-December last year, during two hearings, psychiatrists and psychologists were interrogated, who gave their opinion on the sanity of Stefan W. During the expert hearings, the hearing was closed to the public.
According to the first expert opinion from Kraków, which was prepared in 2019, Stefan W. was insane at the time of the attack on Paweł Adamowicz. Other expert opinions of psychiatrists from Warsaw, Starogard Gdański and Łódź issued in 2020 and 2021 indicated that Stefan W. had limited sanity at the time of the murder. This may affect the amount of the penalty. The court may (but does not have to) apply extraordinary mitigation.
At the end of February, the first sentence was passed in connection with the death of Adamowicz: The District Court in Gdańsk sentenced Gracjan Z. and Dariusz S., the owner of the agency and the head of security, respectively to six and five months in prison, suspended for two years, for organizing the final of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity, during which the president was murdered. Representatives of the Regional Volunteer Center in Gdańsk, a city official and two policemen were acquitted of the charges.
Main photo source: PAP/Adam Warżawa