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17 Dec, 2008 06:20

Bush's shoe attacker faces jail sentence

The Iraqi journalist who caused a media sensation when he threw his shoes at President Bush has been tortured according to his brother. The man's actions could also earn him a lengthy prison sentence.

In just ten seconds, Muntader al-Zaidi's footwear became a new footnote in history.

He's won global attention, but it seems he's paid a high price. The Iraqi journalist was apparently beaten when he was being detained – and it's alleged he was tortured in prison. His brother claimed al-Zaidi suffered a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding – and the allegations have some political backing.

“Assaults at al-Zaidi as well as physical and psychological tortures are unacceptable. This case should be dealt with under the Iraqi constitution,” said Iraqi MP Noureddin al-Hiyali.

Al-Zaidi’s case was handed to the Iraqi court. He pleaded guilty at the preliminary hearings.

But the Iraqi trial has raised even more questions. The court says he faces up to seven years in prison for insulting a foreign leader and the Iraqi prime minister.

But according to al-Hiyali, this term goes beyond the limits of the law.

He said: “We’re against 7-year term for Muntader al-Zaidi. Iraqi law sets two years in prison for such cases of insult.”

Iraqi students reacted to the incident by holding rallies protesting against al-Zeidi's detention.

And the episode has spread to the internet community. The web has been flooded with mini-games featuring the now infamous footwear attack.

Many Iraqis believe al-Zeidi is a hero for insulting the American President who is widely blamed for the bloodshed and chaos of the U.S.-led invasion and the occupation that followed.

Hitting someone with a shoe is considered the supreme insult in Iraq. It means that the person insulted is even lower than shoes standing on dirty ground.

In November this year, a huge crowd of Iraqis opposing the security agreement threw their shoes at a dummy of Bush.

Who'd have thought it would ever happen for real?

Meanwhile the fate of the shoes that had been thrown at George Bush is unclear. Some reports suggest several people in the Arab world offered to buy them. The highest bit is said to be as much as $US 10 million.