Iraq court delays trial of shoe-throwing journalist

[JURIST] The Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) [establishment order, PDF] on Tuesday postponed the trial of Muntadhar al-Zaidi [BBC profile], the journalist accused of throwing his shoes at US President George W. Bush [official website]. The trial will resume after the Iraqi High Judicial Council determines whether al-Zaidi should be charged with "assaulting a foreign leader," a crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or the lesser crime of "insulting a foreign leader," punishable by a no more than three years in prison. Lawyers for Al-Zaidi sought to have the crime downgraded, arguing that Bush was not put in real danger by the incident. Zaidi's family members, Iraqi protesters, and advocacy group Codepink [press release] have called for his pardon and release. A date for a ruling on the charges against al-Zaidi has not been set.

Those opposed to al-Zaidi's trial have criticized the CCCI for failing to meet international standards of fairness and due process [HRW report], and have alleged that al-Zaidi was beaten while in custody [JURIST report]. There have also been allegations that a purported apology letter from al-Zaidi had been forged [CBS report]. The shoe-throwing incident occurred at a December 14 joint news conference where Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki [BBC profile] were discussing the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF; CFR backgrounder].



 

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