Iraqi Shoe-Thrower Trial Begins Next Week
The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at ex-President George W. Bush faces trial next week for allegedly assaulting a foreign leader after an appellate court refused to reduce the charge, a judicial official said Sunday.
Muntadhar al-Zeidi, 30, who won folk hero status throughout the Arab world for his protest, has been in custody since the Dec. 14 outburst at Bush's joint news conference with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
He had been due to stand trial in December but his defense team won a delay as it sought to reduce the charges to simply insulting Bush.
However, court spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said an appellate court rejected the request and ordered the journalist to face trial on Feb. 19 on the original charge. He did not say when the appeals court issued its decision.
Bayrkdar refused to speculate what sentence al-Zeidi might receive if convicted, saying it would be up to the court. The defense has said the assault charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The bizarre act of defiance transformed an obscure reporter from a minor TV station into a national hero to many Iraqis fed up with the nearly six-year U.S. presence here.