Polish prosecutor says he shot himself to protect honour
WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish military prosecutor who survived after shooting himself in the head at the end of a news conference said on Tuesday he had tried to kill himself to protect the honour of his profession after being hounded by accusations and threats.
Colonel Mikolaj Przybyl shot himself after cutting short a news conference on Monday at which he railed against media attacks on military prosecutors and their probe into leaks of an investigation into the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski in 2010.
Speaking to state news agency PAP from his hospital bed on Tuesday, Przybyl said he had wanted to protect the honour and the future of military prosecutors.
He said he had faced threats and intimidation during past investigations, and was finally driven to attempt suicide by accusations of wrongdoing. He did not specify who he thought was behind the threats.
"I could accept that they destroyed my car, loosened my wheels so I would kill myself. There was a million zloty ($300,000) bounty on my head. They killed my dog," Przybyl said.
"I could not deal with the attacks related with accusations of illegal actions."
He survived his suicide attempt because he was interrupted at the last minute by one of the journalists he had ushered out of his office only moments earlier, he said.
"I wanted to commit suicide, but I aimed badly because somebody tried to enter the room," Przybyl told the state news agency PAP in a brief interview from his hospital bed. "I was afraid that the man who wanted to adjust the camera (left behind in the office) would enter. I was aiming too quickly."
Przybyl, who shot himself through the cheek, said he had stood by his office window to prevent a ricochet hurting others. Several journalists were waiting outside his office after the agitated prosecutor told them he needed a minute to cool down.
The reporters ran into the office after hearing a gunshot and found the army officer slumped in a pool of blood behind his desk with a handgun nearby.
Hospital officials said Przybyl's life was not in danger and that he could return home as early as Thursday. Przybyl told the PAP he was about to have an operation to reconstruct his jaw.
Asked by another reporter on Tuesday how he felt, Przybyl said: "As if I had been shot."
PRESIDENT STEPS IN
Some local media have criticised the military prosecutors' attempts to seek phone records of journalists reporting on their probe of the Smolensk plane crash that killed Kaczynski and 95 others. The disaster remains an emotional issue for many Poles and for relations with Russia.
Przybyl's dramatic act has also shone a spotlight on a turf war between Poland's military and civilian prosecution services, triggering a public spat between their top officials over plans to merge the two.
President Bronislaw Komorowski, who had expressed concern over the shooting, said he would seek independent analysis of work of the military prosecutors after meeting the country's chief prosecutor and his military counterpart.
"I will also ask the government and the Polish parliament to work out as soon as possible the final shape of the prosecution service so that everybody, including the prosecutors, knows exactly what sort of system they will be working in," Komorowski told a news conference on Tuesday.
"That is the key source of problems within the prosecution service at present."
(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Gareth Jones, Ben Harding and Peter Graff)
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