Trial of an Iraqi journalist who threw show on Bush adjourned
The trial of an Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at former President George W. Bush was adjourned Thursday until next month as supporters said he should be hailed for standing up to the U.S. "occupier," not punished. According to the AP, Muntadhar al-Zeidi walked into the courtroom in western Baghdad and was handed a scarf printed with a red, black and green Iraqi flag, which he kissed.
The 30-year-old television journalist's expression of anger at a joint press conference with Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Dec. 14 energized many in the Middle East who opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Al-Zeidi's attorneys said he has been charged with assaulting a foreign leader, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The defense has tried to get the charge reduced, saying the act doesn't merit such harsh punishment.
Defense attorney Dhia al-Saadi Thursday asked the court to call social experts to testify because of what he called the political and psychological nature of the act. Judge Abdul-Amir al-Rubaie then held a closed session before announcing the trial was postponed until March 12 because the court needs time to ask the Iraqi Cabinet whether Bush's visit was "formal or informal."
Dozens of relatives and supporters gathered outside the courtroom before the trial started, waving banners and calling for al-Zeidi's release. "We are proud of what Muntadhar has done," said al-Zeidi's sister Doniya. "Bush was not a guest in Iraq or came by invitation of the Iraqi people. He came as an occupier."
Karim al-Shujeiri, one of al-Zeidi's lawyers, said he met with his client Wednesday and found "his spirits and morale were high, and he was confident in the independence of the Iraqi legal system."