Iraqi judge confirms journalist was beaten
The Iraqi reporter who earlier this week threw his shoes at President George W. Bush during a news conference was beaten and had bruises around his eyes and other parts of his face, a judge said Friday. According to the AP, Judge Dhia al-Kinani, the magistrate investigating the incident, said the court has opened a probe into the alleged beating of journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi during the news conference.
Al-Zeidi was wrestled to the ground after throwing his shoes at Bush Sunday as he stood beside Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki at the news conference in Baghdad, and there have been conflicting reports about his condition since then. The journalist has not been seen in public since his detention. One of his brothers claimed he had been harshly beaten but another said he seemed to be in good condition.
Al-Zeidi "was beaten in the news conference and we will watch the tape and write an official letter asking for the names of those who assaulted him," the judge told The Associated Press.
Al-Kinani also confirmed that the journalist had written a letter of apology to al-Maliki. Iraq's president can grant pardons that are requested by the prime minister, but the judge said such a pardon can be issued only after a conviction. According to him, he could not drop the case even though neither Bush nor al-Maliki had complained.
"This case was filed because of an article in the law concerning the protection of the respect of sovereignty," he said.
About 20 members of the reporter's family protested at the edge of Baghdad's Green Zone on Friday and his brother Uday complained that "neither his attorney nor any family member has seen him." At Friday prayers in Baghdad's Shiite stronghold Sadr City, cleric Mohanad al-Moussawi told worshippers that "al-Zeidi's life must be protected and he must be immediately, immediately, immediately freed."
The judge said the al-Zeidi investigation would be completed and sent to the criminal court on Sunday, after which a court date would be set within seven to 10 days.
Al-Kinani said the shoes had been destroyed by investigators trying to determine if they had contained explosives.