Polish PM flown to Warsaw for further checks after car crash

 Reuters International

Polish Prime minister Beata Szydlo speaks during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Warsaw, Poland February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel


By Marcin Goclowski

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo suffered bruising in a car crash on Friday and was being flown from southern Poland to a Warsaw hospital for what her spokesman described as routine checks.

TV footage showed her car had hit a tree, and a police spokesman said her driver had broken a leg and his pelvis.

The incident prompted security concerns after recent car crashes involving the president and defence minister, but a government source said nothing pointed to any kind of attack.

Szydlo, 53, was first taken to hospital in the southern town of Oswiecim, where the crash happened.

The government spokesman said on Twitter: "The PM's condition is good, PM will undergo additional routine checks in hospital in Warsaw." Television pictures showed a yellow helicopter taking off from Oswiecim, and public TV said she was on board.

A police spokesman in Oswiecim, Szydlo's birthplace, said the accident happened on Friday evening when she was in a convoy of cars overtaking a private Fiat Seicento.

"Suddenly the Seicento turned left, crashing into the prime minister's car," the spokesman told a televised news conference. Police were investigating under the supervision of a prosecutor.

TV footage showed the prime minister's car had come to a stop after hitting a tree as the driver apparently swerved to try to avoid the other vehicle. There was serious damage to the front of Szydlo's Audi A8 vehicle.

Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz was involved in a similar accident last month and President Andrzej Duda had a car crash last year. Both escaped injury.

The latest incident provoked criticism of the security arrangements surrounding the prime minister.

"The Government Protection Bureau is expected to predict such situations," said Roman Polko, former head of Polish special forces. "This was a very serious accident, I'm very much concerned that it is being played down."

Julia Pitera of opposition party Civic Platform told broadcaster TVP Info: "It's frightening to live in a country where, within 11 months, the president, prime minister and defence minister are involved in car accidents."

(Reporting by Marcin Goclowski; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)


 Reuters International