Shoe Hurler Gets 3 Years in Prison

Zaidi convicted of assaulting a foreign head of state
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2009 5:24 AM CDT
Muntadar al-Zaidi throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday, Dec. 14, 2008, in Baghdad.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
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(Newser) – The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush during a Baghdad press conference has been sentenced to three years in prison, the Guardian reports. Muntadar al-Zaidi had pleaded not guilty to charges of assaulting a foreign head of state, saying his actions were "a natural response to the occupation." His family erupted in anger at the decision, delivered in a Green Zone court normally used for terrorism cases.

Zaidi stood trial for only 90 minutes last month before judges adjourned the case, claiming they needed time to investigate whether Bush was on an official state visit. Several Iraqi politicians attended the first court session, seeing the trial as a test of the country's independent judiciary. Although his lawyer argued that the charges against Zaidi were overly harsh, he could have faced up to 15 years in jail under Saddam-era sentencing guidelines.