Al-Zaidi could face 15 years in prison for throwing shoe at Bush



 
Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi admitted in court to throwing his shoe at George W. Bush during a press conference on Sunday. He could face a maximum sentence of 15 years if charged with “attempted murder of a president."
 
By TANIA TABAR
 
16701-1.jpg
Reports say Muntazer Al-Zaidi bought the shoes he threw at George Bush during a visit to Beirut. Al-Zaidi is pictured here during that visit.©AFP

BEIRUT, December 17, 2008 (MENASSAT) – Muntazer Al-Zaidi is facing charges of “aggression against a president” and could receive 15 years in prison if charged with the maximum sentence, said the spokesman for Iraq’s High Judicial Council, Abdul Satar Birqadr.

Zaidi appeared in Court on Tuesday, where he admitted to throwing a shoe at George W. Bush at a press conference a few days earlier. 

According to the family of the 29-year old journalist who worked for Al-Baghdadiya TV, Zaidi appeared in court with a broken arm and rib and bruises on his eyes and legs.

Dirgham Al-Zaidi, Muntazer’s brother, told Al-Jazeera that the journalist was beaten by security guards after his arrest and was tortured.

"We know that [Muntazer] has been tortured and his hand was broken. I asked them to go and check on him in the Green Zone [in Baghdad]," he said to Al Jazeera English.

The court decided to hold Zaidi in custody until the presiding judge finished his investigation of the incident. According to sources, he could try Zaidi for attempted murder of a president under another clause in the Iraqi penal code.

“Such a crime could result in imprisonment of seven to 15 years,” spokesman Birqadr said, adding that it is a clause reserved for both locals and foreigners.
 
When asked about Bush’s opinion on the sentence, a White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said, “The President thinks that Iraq is a democratic country that will use the procedure they find most suitable…he thinks that this is only a shoe and that people do express themselves in very different ways.”

Protests continue beyond Iraq


Meanwhile, Iraqi’s continue to hit the streets in protest of Zaidi’s imprisonment and demanding his immediate release. Demonstrations were held yesterday in Baghdad, Nasreya, Falluja, and Kirkuk.

In the Baghdad neighbourhood of Amiriya, a large group of students and teachers called for his immediate release.

The support for Zaidi has not been limited to Iraq. Protests over his imprisonment have taken place throughout the Arab world in places like the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut. 

In Turkey a large number of newspapers published headlines in support of the journalist. A newspaper called Eni Shafaq said “the shoe that Zaidi brought is the shoe he got from Lebanon for 30 dollars when he was attending a press workshop. This shoe will become the most expensive shoe in the history of the world, and until now, we still don’t know the label.”

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