Tens of thousands honor stabbed Polish mayor before burial

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Mayor Pawel Adamowicz's coffin lies in state in the European Solidarity Centre in Gdansk, Poland, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Bells tolled as tens of thousands of Gdansk residents walked in a procession Friday that was bringing the coffin of the Polish city’s slain mayor to a basilica on the eve of his burial.

Mayor Piotr Adamowicz, 53, died Monday after being stabbed Sunday night at a charity event by an ex-convict with a grudge against an opposition party that Adamowicz once belonged to. The assailant is under arrest.

Naval officers in dress uniforms were escorting the black hearse on its way from the museum of the Solidarity freedom movement, where the coffin of the six-term mayor had lain in state, to the Gothic St. Mary’s Basilica, where Adamowicz will be laid to rest on Saturday.

Led by Gdansk Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glodz and prominent figures, the procession winded down the streets that Adamowicz had once walked, past his childhood home where his parents still live, and past schools that he attended.

Earlier in the day, around 300 city mayors and councilors from across Poland gathered to honor Adamowicz with a special session at the city’s historic shipyard where Poland’s anti-communist Solidarity movement was born in 1980. An epitaph written after his death was played on a church carillon that Adamowicz helped restore.

European Union official Donald Tusk, a personal friend of Adamowicz and the nation’s former prime minister, as well as Poland’s current president and prime minister and other top figures, are expected at the funeral Saturday.