Iraqi shoe thrower faces 15-years in prison
Muntazer Al Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoe at former US President George W. Bush, faces up to 15 years in jail if convicted of assault.
February 9, 2009 10:17 by Dana El Baltaji
Muntazer Al Zaidi, the Iraqi TV journalist who threw his shoes at former US President George W. Bush at a press conference in Bagdad in December 2008 is scheduled to face trial on February 19 for assault. His defense lawyers appealed to have the charges against him reduced from assaulting Bush to insulting him, but the appeal was rejected, reports UK daily The Independent.
“The Iraqi appeals court has rejected the appeal submitted by Muntader Al Zaidi’s defense lawyer to change the charges, and decided to set February 19 as the date for trial,” said Iraqi judiciary council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Al Birqdar.
Al Birqdar said that the appeals court said the matter is for the criminal court to decide.
On December 30, Reuters reported that Al Zaidi’s trial had been postponed pending the appeal. His lawyer, Dhiaa Al Saadi, argued that his client’s actions were not life-threatening:
“Have you ever heard of anyone being killed by a shoe?” Al Saadi said at the time. “In Europe, they throw eggs and rotten tomatoes to insult. In Iraq, throwing a shoe is a symbol of disrespect.”
The lesser charge of insulting Bush would have carried a maximum sentence of two years.
Al Zaidi was hailed as an Arab hero after he hurled his shoes at the former president, and called him a “dog.” Al Zaidi was offered $20 million for the shoes by a Saudi man; another man offered his 20-year-old daughter’s hand in marriage to the journalist.
Al Zaidi has been in police custody since the incident took place on December 14, 2008. His family has expressed concerned that the journalist has suffered numerous beatings since the incident.