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Middle East
'No apology' from Iraq shoe-thrower
Lawyer says al-Zaidi views his act as exercising "freedom of expression".
Last Modified: 22 Dec 2008 16:50 GMT

Al-Zaidi is expected to stand trial on December 31 on charges of insulting a foreign leader
 

Muntazer al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush, the US president, has said that he will not apologise for his act, amid reports from his lawyer that he has been severely beaten in custody.

Dhiya'a al-Sa'adi, al-Zaidi's lawyer, told Al Jazeera on Monday: "Muntazer al-Zaidi considers what he did when he threw his shoes at President Bush as exercising his freedom of expression, in opposing and rejecting the occupation, which has brought misery to Iraq."

Al-Sa'adi said al-Zaidi was not considering giving an apology to the US president, "not now, nor in the future".

A spokesman for Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, had said on Thursday that al-Zaidi had acknowledged his shoe throwing during a news conference in Baghdad was "an ugly act".

However, Dhargham al-Zaidi, the journalist's brother, questioned whether the statement was genuine. He said his brother had been beaten with an iron bar as soon as he was taken out of the news conference.

"He does not reject what he has done," his lawyer told Al Jazeera.

"His actions were solely targeted at President Bush to tell him that he rejects the occupation and all that it stands for in Iraq.

"In particular, in light of the inhumane way that Iraqi prisoners have been treated by the American forces."

Beatings

Al-Zaidi was allowed to see his lawyer on Sunday afternoon, who confirmed initial reports that he had been beaten and that his medical condition "was very bad".

Al-Zaidi became a hero to those who blame the US president for the misery in Iraq [AFP] 
"There are visible signs of torture on his body, as a result of being beaten by metal instruments," al-Sa'adi said.

"Medical reports have shown that the beating he was subjected to has led to him losing one of his teeth as well as injuries to his jaw and ears.

"He has internal bleeding in his left eye, as well as bruises over his face and stomach. Almost none of his body was spared."

Hajar Smouni, a spokesperson for Doha Centre for Media Freedom in Qatar, said: "The way he was arrested was very brutal. Some people say there was blood on the floor when he was held during his arrest.

"Although he was not arrested because of his opinions, we cannot remain silent in the face of the ill-treatment inflicted on him by the Iraqi security forces. It is vital that he should be given access to medical care and be given a fair trial," the centre said.

Complaints

Smouni said: "The fact that he has seen his lawyer is a positive sign, but the worrying sign is that he is to be tried at the central Iraqi criminal court, because that is a court used to try terrorism suspects.

"[Muntazer] is not even considering, not now, nor in the future, apologising for what he has done."

Dhiya'a al-Sa'adi,
al-Zaidi's lawyer

"We don't want him to made an example of.

"This is a serious trial. He might be sentenced with up to 25 years in prison, and we want to make sure he is not given an excessive sentence.

"In the past, there have been several outcomes that could be interpreted as not fully showing the independence of the Iraqi judicial system."

Al-Zaidi has filed a complaint against the guards who he said beat him, according to his lawyer, and requested that they be sent to the central Iraqi criminal court.

"The court has accepted his complaint and taken a statement in order to proceed with the necessary actions in bringing these people to justice and punishing them for breaking the law," al-Sa'adi said.

Al-Zaidi shot to fame when he called Bush a "dog" in Arabic at a joint news conference with al-Maliki in Baghdad last week, and threw both his shoes at Bush in a gesture that is a deep insult in Arab culture.

His whereabouts remained unknown four days after he became a hero to those who blame the US president for the tens of thousands of Iraqi deaths that followed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

Al-Zaidi is expected to stand trial on December 31 on charges of insulting a foreign leader.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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