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Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist writes to Prime Minister Maliki apologising over incident

Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist writes to apologising
Gathering protests: A Lebanese communist party activist takes part in a protest in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut December 18, 2008 demanding the release of Iraqi TV reporter Muntazer al-Zaidi. Zaidi shot to fame when he called Bush a "dog" in Arabic at a joint news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad last Sunday and threw both his shoes at Bush, a gesture that is a deep insult in the Arab world.Photo: Reuters

The Iraqi journalist arrested for throwing his shoes at US President George W Bush has written to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki apologising over the incident. Muntadar al-Zaidi, who relatives and colleagues said acted because he "detested" Bush and America, is being held for possible trial for aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit.

"In his letter, he asks the prime minister's pardon," said the prime minister's press aide, Yassin Majid, speaking of a note Zaidi had "written by hand." Majid gave no details of the nature or content of the apology.

The judge investigating the case said he has denied bail to the 29-year-old reporter for Al-Baghdadia television for his own safety, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. Zaidi faces between five and 15 years in jail if convicted, but only one to five years if he is found to have carried out "an attempted aggression."

The AFP report said: [Link]

Majid said Zaidi recalled in his letter having interviewed Maliki in summer 2005 and that the premier had said "come back any time, you are always welcome." However, he said "Maliki is not thinking in terms of another visit (from Zaidi). Muntadar is now in the hands of the law."

Investigating judge Dhiya al-Kenani said Zaidi acknowledged during questioning that he understood the significance of his act—a grave insult among Muslims. "When he was asked whether he had acted on the orders of a political party or for money, he said 'no.' And when asked if he was aware of the effect of his gesture, he answered 'yes'."

The judge said the fact that Zaidi failed to hit Bush—who dodged the throws—could work in his favour. Kenani said he "refused the request for the release on bail of Zeidi for the sake of the investigation and for his own security." If Zaidi were "out on bail, there would be a risk of homemade bombs or attacks. And there would be journalists who would go after him."

He said Zaidi has "signs of blows to the face" but is otherwise in good health and does not appear to have a broken arm as reported by his brother. The judge said Zaidi was injured "when he was being arrested, not afterwards," rejecting suggestions he had been beaten in custody. "He was not beaten during interrogation."

Date posted: December 18, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 424