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Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at President George W Bush faces trial on February 19

Iraqi journalist who threw shoes at Bush faces trial

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at ex-US President George W Bush faces trial next week for assaulting a foreign leader after an appellate court refused to reduce the charge, the Associated Press (AP) has reported quoting a judicial official.

Muntadar al-Zaidi, 30, who won folk hero status throughout the Arab world for his protest, has been in custody since the December 14, 2008 outburst at Bush's joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. He had been due to stand trial in December but his defence team won a delay as it sought to reduce the charges to simply insulting Bush.

Court spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said an appellate court rejected the request and ordered the journalist to face trial on February 19 on the original charge. He did not say when the appeals court issued its decision. Bayrkdar also refused to speculate what sentence al-Zaidi might receive if convicted, saying it would be up to the court. The defence has said the assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Some more info from the AP report: [Link]

Al-Zeidi's lawyer, Dhia al-Saadi, said the defence would urge the court to consider his act as "a nationalistic expression" which was not intended to harm Bush physically but express opposition to "the occupation."

"This type of expression is well-known in America and Europe, where people throw eggs or rotten tomatoes at their leaders to express their rejection of their policies," al-Saadi told Associated Press Television News. "When al-Zeidi threw his shoes at Bush, it was this kind of political expression. Therefore, there should be no criminal charges," he said.

Al-Zaidi was a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia, a satellite television station based in Cairo, Egypt. Station director Abdul-Hamid al-Saeh said he was disappointed that the charge was not reduced. "We stress again that Muntadhar's case puts before the government a challenge that any democratic state must deal when it comes to an expression of opinion," he told The Associated Press by telephone.

Al-Zaidi's brother, Dhargham, said the family has not yet been informed of the trial date. He also repeated complaints that relatives and lawyers have been denied access to al-Zeidi, saying authorities turned down the family's request to meet with him last Thursday. "This court works according to orders from the Cabinet," the brother said. "He has been deprived of his simplest rights."

Iraqi law has a statute forbidding aggression against visiting leaders. Al-Zaidi's lawyers have argued that throwing a shoe could not be considered aggression because it could not cause actual harm, and was therefore only an insult.

Date posted: February 9, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 406