Iraq court reduces sentence of shoe-throwing journalist

An appeals court in Baghdad April 7 reduced the sentence for the Iraqi journalist accused of throwing his shoe at former US president George W. Bush from three years to one year. Lawyers for Muntadar al-Zaidi based their appeal on an Iraqi law that provides a maximum two-year sentence for the public insult of a foreign head of state. This appeal followed last month’s sentencing by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) on charges of assault, which carries with it a longer sentence than insult. The court’s decision to reduce the sentence was based in part on the fact that al-Zaidi had no prior criminal record.

The shoe-throwing incident occurred at a December 14 joint news conference at which Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the future US military presence in the country. Al-Zaidi, who had allegedly suffered brutality first hand in Iraq having been kidnapped and released by Shiite militiamen in 2007, testified to a three-judge panel that his actions were meant to restore Iraqi citizens’ pride. (Jurist, April 8)

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