Traian Basescu

A video has emerged showing Traian Basescu, the center-right president of Romania, hitting a 10-year-old boy in the face during a campaign rally in 2004. He was confronted by footage of the incident during an interview on Thursday night. Initially, he didn’t deny that the incident happened, instead asserting there must have been a “good reason” for the act.

“I can assure you that I will look at it and give you an explanation. But does the child say anything in the film? Did he say something nasty? … Perhaps he swore at me.”

Since then, however, Basescu has recanted that statement, saying the video had been manipulated. Notably, the boy in question, Bogdan Istrotaiu, now 15, initially agreed that Basescu had indeed hit him in 2004, when he was mayor of Bucharest and running for the presidency for the first time. A day later Istrotaiu retracted the claim, saying he didn’t want to be part of the growing controversy.

The run-off election, scheduled for Dec. 6th, is hotly contested. Something like this could swing the election. However, if you watch the video carefully, after the boy is hit, he seems to be smiling. Could it have been a “playful” swat for some reason? Readers, what do you think?

Originally on SNAFU-ed