Crowds gather for funeral of Gdansk mayor

People take part in procession following the coffin of Gdansk mayor Pawel Adamowicz in front of the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, 18 January 2019Image copyright

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Large crowds followed Mr Adamowicz’s coffin through the streets on Friday

A day of mourning is under way in Poland ahead of the funeral of Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk fatally stabbed at a charity event last Sunday.

Large screens have been set up around St Mary’s Church in the city to broadcast Saturday’s funeral service.

Mr Adamowicz, a liberal critic of Poland’s ruling party, had served as the mayor of Gdansk for 20 years.

President Andrzej Duda and European Council President Donald Tusk are among those attending the ceremony.

Late on Friday, a funeral procession was attended by thousands of people who followed Mr Adamowicz’s coffin, which was covered in white flowers and the city’s red flag, as it was driven through the city’s streets.

People lit candles and gathered to sign a book of condolence at the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk.

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Scouts stand at the urn for Mr Adamowicz’s ashes prior to his funeral in St Mary’s Church

The BBC’s Adam Easton in Gdansk says that more than 3,000 people will be attending the funeral Mass in the city’s 14th Century St Mary’s Church, one of the largest brick churches in the world.

People queued for hours, our correspondent adds, in order to secure a place inside the church.

Psychologists have been made available to assist any mourners in need.

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Mr Adamowicz’s coffin was earlier taken to St Mary’s Church in Gdansk

Vigils have been taking place in Polish cities all week, with people expressing shock at the death of the popular city leader.

What happened to Mr Adamowicz?

Mr Adamowicz, 53, was attacked on stage in front of hundreds of people while attending the Great Orchestra of Christmas charity – an annual event where volunteers raise money for medical equipment in hospitals.

Paramedics tried to resuscitate Mr Adamowicz at the scene, before transferring him to a local hospital with stab injuries, where he underwent five hours of surgery.

His death was confirmed by Poland’s health minister on Monday.

President Duda described the attack as an “evil hard to imagine”.

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Media caption‘Mum, this man has a knife!’ – witness describes the moment before Gdansk Mayor Pawel Adamowicz is fatally stabbed

A 27-year-old suspect has been arrested over the attack.

Who was the mayor?

Mr Adamowicz was a popular figure – known best for his liberal political views and long tenure as mayor.

The father-of-two was from Gdansk and first came to power in 1998. He has been re-elected four times since, most recently in November.

After news of the severity of his condition broke, local residents queued at the hospital to donate blood.