Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi became an international celebrity when eight days ago he hurled his shoes at President Bush during a press conference. The move has had a myriad of surprising effects, from a huge financial boost for a Turkish shoe company to potentially ending the British military presence in Iraq.
One other thing it did was put renewed scrutiny on the Iraqi justice system and how it treats its detainees. That scrutiny is likely to be increasingly uncomfortable as Zeidi’s brother, the first family member permitted to see the journalist in jail, reports of his torture in the hours after his arrest.
The report also throws into doubt last week’s “apology” letter, which brother Uday al-Zeidi insists Muntadar wrote against his will after his torture. Prime Minister Maliki’s subsequent claim that Zeidi “confessed” that the mastermind behind the intricate plot (the sum total of which consist of removing his shoes and throwing them as hard as he could at the President’s head) was an unnamed militant known for slitting throats is likely to also face further doubts amid the allegations.