In his first public appearance in three months, ex-Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar lashed out at TV Markíza journalist Henrich Krejča (left).
Mečiar, Slovakia's top political figure since 1989, showed up in public for the first time in three months at the funeral of Ducký, his HZDS party mate who was murdered on January 11 (see related story, this page). As he left the scene of the ceremony, Mečiar lashed out at Czech independent TV Prima reporter Vladimír Mišauer.
"You f---ing prick of a whore, get the f--- out of here or I'll hit you so f---ing hard..." Mečiar shouted at Mišauer and started insulting the reporter, who was taking pictures of Mečiar. Infuriated, Mečiar accused Mišauer of provoking the incident, while his bodyguards and party mates such as Ivan Gašparovič tried to calm his temper.
Reporters who witnessed the incident claimed there was no reason for such behaviour. "We were just waiting for the end of the ceremony, after which we wanted to ask the ex-prime minister how he viewed Ducký's murder," said Henrich Krejča, a reporter with the TV Markíza station for the independent press agency SITA. "All of a sudden, Mečiar pounced on us and physically attacked our colleague from TV Prima," Krejča added.
"I didn't want an interview with him, I was just taking pictures," Mišauer told the daily Sme. After the incident with Mečiar, Mišauer as well as other reporters present on site were verbally and physically attacked by numerous Mečiar supporters. Several elderly people attempted to prevent TV cameramen from taking footage. "Those people followed us everywhere and it all took some 20 minutes," said Mišauer.
Mišauer was also attacked by a policeman while he was being pushed away from site by an elderly man. "The policemen wanted to arrest us, so I told them that we were being attacked and then they started to calm the furious people down," he said.
TV Prima asked Mečiar for an explanation of his behaviour at the funeral. Mišauer, for his part, decided to sue the HZDS-supported daily Slovenská Republika for publishing untruthful information about Mišauer and the incident.
Slovenská Republika reported on January 16 that Mišauer worked for the Czech secret service and the "entire provocation was probably planned beforehand." Ján Smolec, the Association of Slovak Journalists' chairman, wrote in the paper that Mišauer and TV Markiza reporters were discrediting their profession. "If someone doesn't respect the majesty of death, provokes shamelessly and tries to create a scandal with the use of [TV] Markiza video cameras at any cost, I can't call it anything but journalistic hyenaism," Smolec maintained.
The HZDS also released a statement in which the party officially protested against some journalists who appeared at the January 15 funeral. "Despite the family's wishes against the participation of press at the commemoration ceremony, the journalists deliberately and rudely disturbed the event," the party wrote.
Concerning Ducký's murder, the HZDS is considering turning to Amnesty International to request that it intervene to protect the political, civil, and human rights of HZDS members.