The journalist who threw his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush will face trial on Feb. 19 for "assaulting" a visiting head of state, with a maximum 15-year prison term, a court official said on Sunday.
Muntazer al-Zaidi's defence lawyers lost an appeal to have the charges against him reduced to a lesser offence of insulting Bush, rather than assaulting him.
"The Iraqi appeals court has rejected the appeal submitted by Muntader al-Zaidi's defence lawyer to change the charges, and decided to set Feb. 19 as the date for trial," said Iraqi judiciary council spokesman Abdul-Sattar al-Birqdar.
Al-Zaidi has been held in jail in Baghdad since hurling both shoes at Bush at a Dec. 14 news conference during the then president's final visit to Iraq. Bush escaped the flying shoes while the journalist called him a "dog".
The protest act, captured on television, made al-Zaidi a hero in much of the world. In one tribute, an artist built a giant statue of a shoe, which was eventually dismantled, in ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit.
Iraqi law has a statute forbidding aggression against visiting leaders. Al-Zaidi's lawyers have said that throwing a shoe could not be considered aggression because it could not cause actual harm, and was therefore only an insult.
Birqdar said the appeals court had rejected the appeal, ruling that this was a matter for the criminal court to decide.
Members of al-Zaidi's family have complained that he was beaten in custody. He was last seen in public being pummelled and wrestled out of the press conference in stocking feet.
ReutersLast Mod: 09 Şubat 2009, 13:35