February 8th, 2009
10:05 AM ET
12 years ago

Trial date set for Iraqi shoe thrower

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/30/art.malikiblock1230.gi.jpg caption="Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki tried to block one of the shoes thrown at President Bush in December during Bush's visit to Baghdad."]
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush will be tried in two weeks, a spokesman for Iraq's Higher Judicial Council judge told CNN.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi faces charges of assaulting a foreign head of state on an official visit to Iraq. The trial is scheduled to begin on February 19, the spokesman for Judge Abdul Sattar al-Beeraqdar said.

Al-Zaidi has been detained for nearly two months and his appearance in court will mark the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest.

Al-Zaidi threw both of his shoes at Bush in mid-December during a news conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad. Neither shoe hit the president, and others in the room quickly knocked Al-Zaidi to the ground before security officials arrested him.

By tradition, throwing a shoe is the most insulting act in the Arab world.

His angry gesture touched a defiant nerve throughout the Arab and Muslim world. He is regarded by many people as a hero and demonstrators last month took to the streets in the Arab world and called for his release.

In December, Al-Zaidi's defense team filed an appeal requesting the charge be changed from "assaulting" a head of state to "insulting." Al-Zaidi's chief defense attorney, Dhiyaa al-Saadi, said the appeals court ruling left it up to the court trying al-Zaidi - the Central Criminal Court of Iraq - to decide what charges he will be facing.

According to the Iraqi penal code, anyone who assaults a foreign head of state is punished by "imprisonment for a term of years," with the sentence length up to the court. Al-Saadi told CNN in December that his client could face 15 years in jail if convicted. On the other hand "insulting" a foreign head of state is punishable by a two year prison sentence and a fine.

Al-Saadi said he has been allowed only one meeting with his client, in December, during the nearly two months that al-Zaidi has been in custody.

Al-Zaidi marked his 30th birthday in jail last month. One of his brothers told CNN he "in good health and is being treated well."

Al-Zaidi's employer, TV network al-Baghdadia, keeps a picture of him at the top left side of the screen with a calendar showing the number of days he has spent in detention. The network has been calling for his release.

–CNN's Jomana Karadsheh contributed to this report

Filed under: Iraq • President George W. Bush
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. pat C.

    they need to let the man go free. we americans applaud him. we would've loved to have done worse.

    February 8, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Joyce in Indiana

    I would like to see former President Bush be a man and request leniency for this man. I doubt it will happen, but it would contribute toward improving Bush's legacy.

    February 8, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  3. Ray Fisher, Albuquerque, NM

    Great QA CNN, supposed to be Shoe thrower???

    February 8, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  4. Kenneth M. of Flushing Queens

    Forgive and Forget

    February 8, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  5. Mary ca.

    Should be release easier, never hit gwb...

    February 8, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. Tyler Muelrath

    Come on CNN.com. Show Thrower? Is anyone reading the headline before it's posted? You're better than that.

    February 8, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  7. sledhands

    Give him a pardon. Did you see the camel spider he was hurling those shoes at!

    February 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  8. lvleph

    Reading the news lately gives me a headache. Where are the editors? Bad grammar and misspellings are rampant in US news as of late and it is driving me mad. Are we so dumb nowadays that even our news cannot spell?

    Oh and just in case you have no idea what I am referring to, the title should say shoe not show.

    February 8, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Joe the Troll

    The headline should be "shoe thrower." An Iraqi "show thrower" would be their answer to the great Ziegfeld..............

    February 8, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  10. John

    Trial date set for Iraqi SHOE thrower.

    Typical for Americans to think this is another game show...

    February 8, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Weareallfamily

    shame on this journalist. I am against the war yet I think this way of expressing iraqi anger just reinforces the need to invade iraq to the american people. the right thing to do would have been to report to americans how the war was not appreciated by most iraqis.

    February 8, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Helen

    They should let this journalist go. He did not do anything wrong, at least from moral point of view. Bush was asking for it. He is the one who needs to be investigated and held in prison until proven innocent. After the economic crisis in over, Bush administration need to be investigated. In my opinion the damage they caused is too colossal to write it off for an innocent mistake.
    The Iraqi journalist paid for a misdemeanor by spending several months in jail. He didn't even hit the target! Bush is responsible for thousands of lives and trillions dollars in damage.

    February 8, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  13. Louie

    So when is Obama's treason trial ? Or cocaine trial ? Or tax evasion trial ? Or racketering trial ? And where in hell is CNN on this ?

    February 8, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |

    Am I the only one that thinks the man should be given a medal for his exceptional intelligence at who he threw them at, his throwing skills, and his fairly good aim?

    February 8, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  15. Obama/Biden 08 & 12

    Helen February 8th, 2009 11:17 am ET

    I completely agree.

    February 8, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  16. sensible Cape Coral FL

    I think we should give him a medal.

    February 8, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |