Iraqi shoe-thrower to go on trial
Muntadar al-Zaidi, the infamous Iraqi shoe-thrower will stand trial on December 31, a court official said on Monday.
The TV journalist is charged with “assaulting a foreign head of state visiting Iraq,” said Abdul Satar Birqadr, spokesman for Iraq’s High Judicial Council.
The 28-year-old, hailed as a hero by some in the Arab world, could face a jail term if convicted.
The correspondent threw both of his shoes at George W. Bush while the American president and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki were holding a news conference a week ago during Bush’s unannounced visit to Baghdad.
One of Zaidi’s brothers, Uday, told AFP he had been able to visit him in custody for the first time on Sunday and charged that the journalist had been tortured by his captors to force him to sign a statement.
“I met my brother for around an hour. He has been tortured while in detention for 36 hours continuously. He has been hit with iron rods and cables,” the brother said.
“There is very severe bleeding in his eye, and he has bruises on his feet and nose, and he was also tortured with electric shocks.
“He was forced to sign a statement confessing to receiving money from different groups and saying that he did not throw his shoes for the honour of Iraq,” Uday said.
“But Muntazer said I will not apologise for what I did — not now, not ever.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Zaidi admitted in the letter that a known terrorist had induced him to throw the shoes.
The prime minister said his government remained “committed to protecting the journalist in performing his professional duty” and guaranteed him the right to practise his profession “on condition that he does not violate the dignity of others”.