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Iraq court reduces sentence of shoe-throwing journalist

[JURIST] A federal appeals court in Baghdad on Tuesday reduced the sentence for the Iraqi journalist accused of throwing his shoe at former US president George W. Bush [JURIST news archive] from three years to one year. Lawyers for Muntadar al-Zaidi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] based their appeal on an Iraqi law that provides a maximum two-year sentence for the public insult of a foreign head of state. This appeal followed last month's sentencing [JURIST report] by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI) [establishment order, PDF] on charges of assault, which carries with it a longer sentence than insult. The court's decision to reduce the sentence was based in part on the fact that al-Zaidi had no prior criminal record [Al Jazeera report].

The shoe-throwing incident occurred at a December 14 joint news conference [transcript] at which Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) [text, PDF; CFR backgrounder] governing the future US military presence in the country. Al-Zaidi, who had allegedly suffered brutality first hand in Iraq having been kidnapped and released by Shiite militiamen in 2007 [Washington Post report], testified to a three-judge panel that his actions were meant to restore Iraqi citizens' pride.

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