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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Iraq shoe thrower trial postponed

Muntadar al-Zaidi (file image)
Mr Zaidi's lawyers say he was making a legitimate protest

The trial of the Iraqi man who threw his shoes at US President George W Bush earlier this month has been postponed.

Muntadar al-Zaidi, 29, was expected to appear in court on Wednesday charged with assaulting a foreign leader, and faced a maximum sentence of 15 years.

But after an appeal, a higher court is now deciding whether he should face the lesser charge of insulting a leader.

The reporter achieved global notoriety by his actions, which were celebrated by thousands in the Arab world.

A spokesman for Iraq's Central Criminal Court said the decision to postpone the trial was made following an appeal by Mr Zaidi's lawyers.

A new trial date would be set later, Abdel Sattar Beyraqdar told the AFP news agency.

The lesser charge would incur a maximum sentence of two years.

'No danger'

Lawyers for Mr Zaidi said their appeal was based on the fact that he had simply been expressing his opposition to the US presence in Iraq and that Mr Bush had never been in serious danger.

"Have you ever heard of anyone being killed by a shoe?" lawyer Dhiaa al-Saadi told Reuters.

"In Europe, they throw eggs and rotten tomatoes to insult. In Iraq, throwing a shoe is a symbol of disrespect."

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President Bush ducks as the shoes are thrown

Mr Zaidi threw two shoes at Mr Bush during a press conference in Baghdad on 15 December.

He shouted that Mr Bush was "a dog" and the shoes were "a farewell kiss" from those who had been killed, orphaned or widowed in Iraq.

Mr Bush ducked the shoes and appeared untroubled by the incident, joking shortly after that he knew they were a size 10.

Mr Zaidi was arrested and has been held in custody ever since.

His actions were condemned by the Iraqi government as "shameful", but he was celebrated as a hero by thousands in the Arab world, who called for his immediate release from prison.



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