March 13th, 2009 at 03:05pm
A fair and balanced judicial system, with sensible rulings and the right of appeal. This wouldn’t have been possible if Saddam was still in charge.
An Iraqi court has jailed for three years the journalist who shot to fame in the Arab world for throwing his shoes at former US president George W Bush.
Muntazer al-Zaidi, a 30-year-old television journalist, had pleaded not guilty at the hearing in the Iraq Central Criminal Court to assaulting Bush during his farewell visit to Iraq last year.
“He was sentenced to three years in jail,” defence lawyer Yahia Attabi told reporters outside the Baghdad court.
“We expected the decision because under the Iraqi criminal code he was charged with assaulting a foreign leader on an official visit,” Attabi said, adding: “We will appeal this decision.”
Zaidi, whose shoe-hurling gesture is considered a grave insult in the Arab and Muslim world, had risked up to 15 years in jail on the charge of aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit.
The former US president, deeply unpopular in the Arab world for ordering the 2003 invasion of Iraq, had been at a globally-televised media conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki when Zaidi let rip with his shoes, zinging them at Bush, who managed to duck just in time.
When Judge Abdulamir Hassan al-Rubaie asked Zaidi if he was innocent, the journalist responded: “Yes, my reaction was natural, just like any Iraqi (would have done).”