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Prosecutor probing military corruption ‘shoots himself’ at press conference

Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl, a prosecutor investigating military corruption and media leaks in connection with a 2010 air crash in which the Polish president and other officials died, apparently shot himself Monday during a break at a news conference.


AFP - A military prosecutor probing media leaks from an inquiry into the 2010 air crash that killed the Polish president apparently shot himself on Monday during a break at a press conference.

Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl, who officials said had been targeted in several attacks on his home and car, was rushed to hospital after the apparent suicide attempt and doctors said his life was not in danger.

At the 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 plane crash probe.

Reporters at the conference in the western city of Poznan 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.

Poland pays last respects to President Lech Kaczynski

Poland's chief military prosecutor General Krzysztof Parulski said Przybyl had been investigating allegations of corruption in the military and had been targeted in several attacks on his home and his car, without giving details.

He said there was "no reason to believe personal problems were behind the suicide attempt", adding that Przybyl had used a gun he had obtained in the wake of the attacks against him.

"These multiple attacks... were intimidating enough for him to understand that he could be targeted at any time," Parulski added.

Physician Leslaw Lenartowicz, head of Poznan's HCP hospital where Przybyl was receiving treatment, said the prosecutor's life was "not in danger".

"His skull is damaged and we are carrying out a computer tomography for a diagnosis," he told Polish media.

Poland's TVN24 news channel quoted physicians as describing his wounds as superficial.

President Bronislaw Komorowski described the incident as "disturbing" and instructed national security chief Stanislaw Koziej to monitor developments with prosecutor general Andrzej Seremet and Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak.

Seremet told reporters in Warsaw after the incident that Przybyl had requested permission to electronically monitor journalists reporting on the probe into the April 2010 presidential jet crash in Russia.

"The scope of information that the prosecutor wanted to obtain from mobile telephone operators which focused on text messages had no legal justification," Seremet added, without saying if Przybyl had actually eavesdropped on journalists.

The plane taking then president Lech Kaczynski's delegation to a memorial service for the 1940 Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Soviet secret police crashed in thick fog in Smolensk, western Russia on April 10, 2010.

Among those who died were Poland's military chiefs of staff and the central bank governor as well as the president. Investigators blamed pilot error.

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