Video: Czechs get slap-happy

updated 5/23/2006 3:03:19 PM ET 2006-05-23T19:03:19

Czech’s health care minister and an adviser to President Vaclav Klaus got into a fistfight in a confrontation captured by TV cameras.

The fight happened Saturday in front of a group of dentists.

Former Vice Prime Minister Miroslav Macek, a dentist by profession who was invited to moderate a discussion of Czech dentists with David Rath, slapped Rath on the back of his head in front of the perplexed audience — and TV cameras — saying he was settling a private matter with him. Rath called Macek a coward, and the two exchanged punches.

The fight made it to all Czech prime-time television news programs Saturday.

General elections are to be held June 2-3, and Rath — the leading candidate for the governing Social Democrats in the Prague district — has alleged the attack was politically motivated.

Macek, a member of the center-right Civic Democratic Party, denied any political motives, saying Rath had insulted his wife.

In a newspaper interview earlier this month, Rath was quoted as saying Macek had always dated young women but then married an older woman for money.

“It was a purely private matter,” the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes quoted Macek as saying.

The Civic Democratic Party said Macek should consider resigning from the party because of the incident.

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