April 7th, 2009
09:10 AM ET
14 years ago

Court reduces sentence for Iraqi shoe-thrower

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Iraq's federal appeals court has reduced the sentence for the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President Bush at a news conference in December, his lawyer told CNN on Tuesday.

Muntadhar al-Zaidi now will serve one year in jail instead of three, the attorney said. Bush was able to duck, and was unhurt in the incident.

Iraq's Central Criminal Court sentenced al-Zaidi to three years in March after he was found guilty of assaulting a foreign head of state on an official visit to Iraq. It was Bush's last visit to Baghdad before leaving office in January.

Al-Zaidi's lawyer, Dhiaa al-Saadi, said the appeals court announced its decision to reduce the sentence Monday, after lawyers appealed the criminal court ruling.

Al-Baghdadia TV, where the 30-year-old al-Zaidi works, has been broadcasting a bulletin announcing the reduced sentence.

In many traditional Middle East circles, throwing shoes at someone is considered a grave insult.

Al-Zaidi became a kind of hero after his actions, because of Bush's unpopularity - mainly as a result of the Iraq War. Expressing their own freedom on Facebook, a worldwide fan base rose up. Supporters formed hundreds of fan pages and groups, including one called the "Shoe-Throwing Appreciation Society."

Filed under: Iraq • President George W. Bush
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. gary gpp

    That guy is a bona-fide hero. He should have to serve even a day !

    April 7, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    They should give the guy a national holiday.

    April 7, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    He is spending time in jail should be a given. The question is should Bush be spending any time in jail? That is for a court and the Congress to decide later.

    April 7, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  4. Carol

    Reducing al-zaidi's sentence is trivializing the incident. He is a "professional shoe thrower"; his brother said he had done it many times before. However this time he chose for a target the president of the U.S. Insulting a head of state and threatening bodily harm by his actions is a punishable crime in Iraq. He should serve his full term.

    April 7, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  5. Nike should offer endorsement

    what an opportunity for marketing

    April 7, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    Although I condemn his actions for throw a shoe at our unpopular president, I do not think he should have been sentenced.

    Bush created his own unpopularity, with the help of Rumsfeld and Cheney. This was bound to happen; luckily, it was only shoe-throwing.

    April 7, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. alvino

    I suppose if Al-Zaidi had hit Bush, they would have built a statue in his honor, and he would not have to serve time in prison.

    April 7, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. one day at a time

    good for them.

    April 7, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  9. shane

    I don't care how unpopular Bush was at the time a journalist needs to be able to separate his personal feelings from covering the news. You will never hear an american journalist behaves this way.. He should spend the entire three years in prison this sends. a very bad signal.

    April 7, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  10. Happy with new President

    Let him go free!

    April 7, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  11. Camile

    I am glad that they have lessend his sentence. Bush deserved everything he got, but I know he doesn't have the intellect to be mean. It was Rumsfeld and Cheney and they better not go overseas.

    April 7, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Robin

    I think it should be time served and let him go.

    What he did was wrong. You do not throw ANYTHING at a visiting dignitary. While he does not deserve a trophy, I do feel he has been punished enough.

    Funny how liberal students at Columbia cheered President Ahmadinejad back in 2007 and Americans cheered Muntadhar al-Zaidi when he assaulted our President with shoes. Are we really that un-patriotic?

    April 7, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Seth

    When a country invades the U.S. and imposes its will on us, I'll stand by our reporters to throw anything they want at that countries leader.

    April 7, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. GM from MN

    Bush could have at least acknowledged the frustrations of the Iraqi people at that time. He should have denounced the shoe throwing but asked for the Iraqi government to forgo the charges. I think that would have been "compasionate" of Bush to do.

    April 7, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  15. Gayle in Georgia

    He should never have been sentenced in the first place.

    April 7, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  16. Matt

    Cooler heads prevail.

    April 7, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  17. Connie

    I'm glad to hear the sentence has been reduced, however tt should be expunged.

    Bush should have spoken on behalf of the man and requested leniency. No one was hurt and it's very understandable why the man was so emotional.

    April 7, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. Stacy

    I applaud that man, I wish I could have thrown my own shoes at Mr. Bush myself. I am glad they reduced his sentence, and I would like to say to him, the system is not corrupt, you must serve some time for the crime, but you serve it for your people and that makes you commendable. Thank you for telling him that his actions are dispicable, and for humiliating him before he left office. Cheers to you!

    April 7, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. tony

    This guy should never have been sentenced to jail. There were numerous shoe throwing incidents reported on public officials after he started this, none of which was sentenced to jail.

    April 7, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  20. Scooter got a reduced sentence; why not?

    Fortunately this happened in Iraq. If this had happened in the United States, the Secret Service wouldn't have been able to get to the guy because of the surrounding crowd of Americans handing him shoes to throw...

    April 7, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  21. Danny E. Gonzalez

    The fact that he was convicted says a lot about the new direction of the country; perhaps 3 years is too much... given the circumstances and the fact that he did not have a weapon (Bush did a pretty good job evading the shoes); so if it is reduce I guess is not that bad of a gesture... I still belive that the important step was to find him guilty; how long is just a matter of the courts and as a u.s. citizen I wanted him to be found guilty because no one should be allow to display such poor judgement towards any dignatary no matter how they are viewed...

    April 7, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  22. Loss of a Loved One

    The Iraqi news journalist should'nt have been arrested...I for one am very happy to know that this man's sentence has been reduced...to alot of Americans, he's a HERO.

    April 7, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  23. Kurt in PA

    American journalists don't behave this way, because American journalists don't know what it's like to have their country torn apart from the inside out. It's easy to point fingers and surmise that he should or shouldn't have taken this action, but a vast majority of us don't know how it feels to have the world crumbling around us...

    April 7, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Rick W.

    One problem with the Bush presidency is that unlike this Iraqi journalist, the public never has an opportunity to properly express their outrage at his betrayals of our trust. To address this, we should erect statues of Bush in public places and passer-by's should be welcome to remove one or both shoes and hurl them at the monuments. We would then have the option of leaving the statues buried as a reminder to future generations, or collect the shoes on a regular basis to help the less fortunate.

    April 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  25. ruth

    Let's have a parade for him. Bush deserves to have more than a shoe thrown at him. Do research and you will find out just how crooked he was.

    April 7, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
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