Monday 18 December 2017

Polish military prosecutor who attempted suicide had £200,000 bounty on his head

Matthew Day

A POLISH military prosecutor who made a suicide attempt during a press conference said he had received death threats and a £200,000 (€242,421) bounty had been placed on his head owing to a corruption investigation in the armed forces.

In an interview with the Polish Press Agency the day after he shot himself in the head only to survive, Col Mikolaj Przybyl said his life had been threatened and that he was a marked man.

The officer also claimed his flat had been broken into, the tires on his car tampered with in an apparent assassination attempt, and that his dog had been killed as part of an intimidation campaign.

He added his suicide attempt had been "influenced" by his investigation into the high-level corruption.

"My act was influenced by the cases I am investigating: one of them is the most serious involving financial issues in the Polish military," said the colonel.

Col. Przybyl had tried to commit suicide after breaking a press conference in the western city of Poznan to "air the room". After journalists had left his office he put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger. A television camera left rolling recorded the sound of the gun being cocked, a shot and that of a body hitting the floor.

He had requested the pistol used in the suicide bid for personal protection owing to fears that his life was in danger.

The soldier was rushed to hospital but made good progress following an operation for facial injuries, and medical officials said Tuesday that he should be fit enough to leave in a couple of days.

The colonel attributed his survival to a technician trying to adjust television cables.

"I wanted to commit suicide," he explained. "I put the pistol in my mouth but my hand shook when I saw the door handle move. A man who wanted to shift the cables saved me ... the bullet hit my cheek and didn't go through my head."

During his hospital interview the colonel also claimed that his corruption investigation had prompted authorities to speed up their attempts to reorganise his department and place it under civilian control.

Col Przybyl has not elaborated on the specifics of the investigation but during Monday's press conference he said "at risk are not only hundreds of millions of zloty from the state budget but also the life and health of the Polish soldier, who often receives defective or malfunctioning equipment."

Adding to Col Przybyl's woes have been allegations that his department made illegal attempts to tap and hack into phones owned by journalists reporting on the leak of classified information relating to the 2010 Smolensk air disaster that claimed the lives of Lech Kaczynski, the Polish president, and dozens of the country's political and military elite.

"I could accept the fact that my car had been damaged, a tire loosened in an attempt to kill me and that my dog had been killed. I also knew about the bounty put on my head but I couldn't accept the fact that I had been accused of an illegal action," said Col Przybyl.

Confronted with these allegations he said he also wanted to take his own life "to protect the honour of the office".

Asked by a reporter how he felt, Col Przybyl replied: "As if I had been shoot".

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