Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl, the Polish military prosecutor who investigates the case of the plane crash that killed Poland’s president, shot himself today in dramatic footage caught on film in his office after cutting short a news conference.
Moments earlier, Mikolaj Przybyl had defended a military investigation into leaks related to a plane crash that killed Poland’s president two years ago.
At the beginning of the conference at his office in Poznan, Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl said: “During my entire service as a civilian and later military prosecutor, I have never brought shame to the Republic of Poland and I will protect the honour of an officer of the Polish armed forces and prosecution.
“Thank you, please give me a five-minute break, I need to rest,” Mikolaj Przybyl said, as the reporters then leave the room.
With the camera still rolling, the prosecutor walks across the floor and, just out of shot, a pistol can be heard being reloaded and then a gunshot sounded.
As he slumps to the ground, only his feet are in the frame.
Mikolaj Przybyl was immediately taken to hospital after reporters found him lying in a pool of blood.
Hospital director Leslaw Lenartowicz said Mikolaj Przybyl is in stable condition, conscious, and his life is not in danger. He added that the military prosecutor had suffered injuries to his face.
Mikolaj Przybyl is a deputy head of the prosecutor’s office and the head of a local department investigating organized crime in the army.
He had asked the reporters to leave his office after he criticized media leaks from the continuing probe into the plane crash in Russia on April 10, 2010, that killed then-president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others, mostly senior Polish officials.
During his brief news conference, Mikolaj Przybyl said the military prosecutor’s office had the right to seek phone records of journalists covering the investigation of the crash.
He read a statement to reporters in which he objected to plans by Prosecutor General Andrzej Seremet to put military prosecutors under civilian authority.
Andrzej Seremet said that such a decision has not been made yet.
Mikolaj Przybyl also said that military prosecutors were proving themselves competent in the many probes that they have opened into organized crime cases inside the army.
The probes primarily concern suspicions of corruption in buying equipment for Poland’s troops on missions in Afghanistan and, earlier, in Iraq.
Mikolaj Przybyl denied media suggestions that the military prosecutors broke the law while investigating the crash.
The media have alleged that the prosecutors had sought billing lists and text message content of mobile phones of some reporters to determine the source of leaks to the media.
Several news outlets showed footage of Mikolaj Przybyl’s body behind his desk before an ambulance took him to a hospital.
A spokesman for the military prosecutor’s office was not available for comment.
“According to the information available, the prosecutor is alive, he is being treated in the hospital and the site is being investigated by the prosecutors and military police,” said spokesman of Poznan military prosecutors office Slawomir Schewe.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said in a statement he was “concerned” about the suicide attempt and asked the head of the national security bureau to monitor the situation.
Some lawmakers are calling for a special parliamentary probe into the case.