Iraqi judicial spokesman Abdul Satar Birqadr reported that journalist-turned-folk-hero Muntadar al-Zeidi appeared before a judge today and confirmed that he had thrown his shoes at President Bush. Its hard to imagine how he could have done otherwise, given that most of the world has seen the incident on television or pictured in newspapers by now.
Birqadr said the journalist would be charged with “aggression against a president,” the most serious of three potential charges he might face, which carries a punishment of up to seven years in prison. Later media reports suggested he was simply facing “insulting a foreign leader,” one of the lesser charges which only carries two years or a $0.17 fine. Dheyaa Saadi, the president of the Union of Lawyers in Iraq who was appointed to lead the defense, says Zeidi committed no crime, adding “he only freely expressed himself to the occupier, and he has such a right according to international law.”
More pressing to Zeidi’s family is his safety, as he is reported to have been taken to a hospital after his arrest with a broken arm, multiple broken ribs, and cuts to his face and arm. The family says it is unclear where is his, but they are concerned he is at risk for further mistreatment. With the international media touting the fact that he wasn’t summarily executed, as they believe he would have been under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the prospect of him dying in custody, at least while the international media is keeping a close eye on the case, would be an enormous embarrassment for the Iraqi government.
On the lighter side of the story, speculation abounds about the ultimate destination of Zeidi’s shoes. Currently in custody themselves as evidence in the case, al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper claimed today that a Saudi businessman has offered in the realm of $10 million for the shoes.