Shoe-throwing Iraqi journalist’s trial adjourned

February 19th, 2009 - 5:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, Feb 19 (DPA) The trial of an Iraqi journalist who famously threw his shoes at former US President George W. Bush in December opened in Baghdad Thursday, and was later adjourned.
Montazer al-Zaidi, a journalist for the Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya television station, arrived in court clad in a suit and draped in an Iraqi flag.

People in court waved Iraqi flags as the 30-year-old arrived, and cheered. A crowd gathered outside the court also waved Iraqi flags, and chanted demands for his release.

After listening to witnesses including al-Zaidi himself, a judge at the Central Criminal Court adjourned the trial until March 12 so that the court could ask Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki whether former president Bush had been in Iraq on an official visit.

Al-Zaidi faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of assaulting a foreign head of state for throwing his shoes at the former US president at a December press conference in Baghdad.

Al-Zaidi’s lawyers have said the journalist was exercising his constitutional right to free expression, and politicians Iraqi and Arab politicians have called for his release, calling him a hero.

If the judge reduces the charge to simple assault, the maximum sentence would be five years.

Al-Zaidi became a hero in Iraq and the Arab world when he threw his shoes at Bush and called out: “This is a farewell present, you dog!”

The shoes narrowly missed the former president, and Bush joked that the shoes were “size 10.”

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