Iraqi shoe-thrower Muntadhar al-Zaidi was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Thursday, under a statute forbidding assaults on visiting heads of state. The maximum sentence is 15 years, but the judge said he took into account al-Zaidi’s youth and that it was his first offense. Al-Zaydi’s lawyers maintained that the law only forbade assault, and that it was wrong to punish al-Zaydi under the statute since he had merely mounted a symbolic protest.
Al-Zaydi’s sister complained bitterly that the court had sided with the US against its own people, according to Aswat al-Iraq, an independent wire service. She also said that Muntadhar had asked her to distribute sweets when his verdict was read out, since he was proud of what he had done. Al-Hayat [Life] writes in Arabic that Al-Zaydi’s family dismissed the verdict as faulty and purely “political,” and his brother called the court “American.” Iraqis will be having “Hero Parties” in his honor.
Al-Zaydi told the judge that he had been angered because of Bush’s crimes, which had kicked off the violence in Iraq. He said his throwing shoes at Bush had been natural and understandable, and that any Iraqi who stood in his position would have done the same. . .
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