Mystery of Polish spy chief’s death

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Polish prosecutors have launched an investigation into the death of a former senior intelligence officer and founder of Poland’s equivalent of the SAS.

General Slawomir Petelicki was found dead in an underground garage at the weekend with a gunshot wound to head.

Initial evidence indicated that the 66-year-old, who had a long career in communist and post-communist intelligence, and in the early 1990s formed Grom, the country’s elite special forces regiment, had shot himself.

However, friends and colleagues have expressed their surprise over his death, saying that he was in good health and spirits, and was not a man who would take his own life.

“I knew the general for many years, and maybe we won’t know the full truth behind the tragedy because death is often a mystery, but for me suicide doesn’t quite fit,” said Marek Siwiec, a politician and friend of the dead man.

Leszek Miller, a former prime minister and now leader of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance, said: “men like [Petelicki] don’t commit suicide”.

Meanwhile, Romuald Szeremietiew, a former defence minister, yesterday told the press that last year he had received information that an “influential group” wanted to “silence me forever”. He had kept quiet about it at the time, but now the general’s death had “forced him” to speak.