Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Past member of Polish government kills self when police call

A former Polish government minister committed suicide in her bathroom Wednesday morning as police searched her house in connection with corruption allegations, authorities said.

Officers from Poland's Internal Security Agency staged an early morning search of Barbara Blida's home in the southern town of Siemianowice, agency spokesman Magdalena Stanczyk said.

Ms. Blida, a lawmaker for the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance from 1989-2005 and construction minister from 1993-1996, “was suspected of taking and receiving material gains,” Ms. Stanczyk said.

Ms. Blida, 57, asked agents if she could use the toilet while they conducted their search.

The officers agreed, and a female agent accompanied Ms. Blida to the bathroom, the agency said later Wednesday in a statement.

Once in the bathroom, “Blida suddenly and unexpectedly pulled a loaded gun from an unestablished location and shot herself in the chest,” the agency said.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his conservative Law and Justice party are making a broad push to root out corruption and shady ties between business and politics that they say thrived under previous governments led by ex-communists.

Wednesday's raid was part of an investigation into corruption allegations against 14 people, including Ms. Blida, said Tomasz Tadla, a spokesman for prosecutors in Katowice.

Mr. Tadla said police had planned to arrest Ms. Blida and 13 others in the region early Wednesday and press charges including corruption, money-laundering and possession of false documents.

Prosecutors were on the scene to determine whether Internal Security Agency officers followed the proper procedures.

Mr. Kaczynski called for an investigation.

“Why she couldn't be stopped before this tragic, desperate action still needs to be clarified,” he said.