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Rio mayor punches singer after 'insult'

29 May 2013, 11:52

Sao Paulo — Police are investigating a Brazilian rock singer's allegations that Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes punched him outside a restaurant after the musician insulted the politician while he was dining, the department said on Tuesday.

In a two-line statement, Rio's police said musician Bernardo Botkay and his girlfriend would be questioned about the Sunday night incident. It did not say if the mayor would be questioned as well.

Paes has apologised for what he labelled a "physical disagreement".

"I generally welcome criticism because it helps us right wrongs and grow," the mayor said in a written statement. "But personal attacks in front of my wife during a private moment are not acceptable. Despite the aggressive tone of the couple, I should not have reacted as I did and I ask the city to forgive me for the way I behaved."

The dustup comes the month before Rio hosts the Confederation Cup soccer tournament. Paes' city also will host a papal visit in July and the 2016 Olympics.

The mayor's statement did not describe what sort of physical action took place, but a press officer at City Hall said Paes punched Botkay in the face. The press officer wouldn't provide more details and spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorised to discuss the case.

'Brusque, aggressive'

"I should not have reacted the way I did because I'm the mayor," Paes said in an interview with Band News radio station. "I have never been in a fight in my 20 years of public life. There is a limit to everything, but that does not justify my behaviour."

On his Facebook page, Botkay said he was "brusque and aggressive" with Paes and insulted the mayor with the Portuguese term for faeces.

"He physically assaulted me and punched me in the face and then his bodyguards grabbed me. I do not regret what I said because you can't be polite with fools who are messing up our city," Botkay wrote on his page.

The musician's girlfriend, Ana Maria Bonjour, said on her Facebook page that the mayor continued punching Botkay after the bodyguards grabbed him. "I tried to help him, but I was thrown to the ground," she said.

Neither Botkay nor Bonjour responded to requests for further comment.

- AP

Tags brazil

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