Poland’s justice minister seen carrying pistol in his belt

WARSAW (AP): Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro has drawn surprised comments after a gust of wind revealed that he carries a gun tucked in his belt.

Ziobro was laying a wreath at a monument to victims of mining disasters in central Poland on Monday when the Glock pistol came into view.

Poland, like most European Union countries, have strict rules about acquiring guns and very few people are allowed to own them or carry them in public.

Critics on social media commented that the minister mustn’t be confident in the protection he receives as a state figure, but supporters note that Ziobro, who is also prosecutor general, has received death threats.

Ziobro said at a news conference on Tuesday that he obtained permission to have a gun after it was revealed some years ago that an organized crime boss had called for his assassination. The man, identified only as Jan S., has been detained for several years and his trial is underway.

Ziobro said that he has victim status in the case.

“Like any citizen, I have every right to use means that guarantee security to me and to my family,” Ziobro said.

At a separate news conference, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that all citizens, including the justice minister, have the right to try to obtain permission to have a gun.

Earlier, Ziobro said that he practices shooting at a range on weekends as a hobby. He said he had the gun on him because the alternative was to leave it in the car, which isn’t allowed, as he stopped at the ceremony on his way back to Warsaw at the start of the working week.

He said he doesn’t carry the weapon all the time.

Ziobro, 52, is head of a small party in the ruling conservative coalition and has strong views, including support for the death penalty. He authored changes to the justice system that have put Poland on a collision course with the 27-nation EU.