While the family of Iraqi journalist of Muntazer al-Zaidi (or al-Zeidi) (including a brother who visited him) have alleged obvious signs of abuse and torture, investigating judge Dhiya al-Kenani has refused to allow an investigation into the matter — saying that such accounts are completely baseless. The problem has been the curious refusal of authorities to allow anyone to see al-Zaidi for many days and the decision to cancel an appearance in court shortly after his arrest. Then there are the accounts of witnesses who say that they heard him screaming after being taken away by Iraqi security.
Kenani announced that “The investigation phase is over and the case has been transferred to the Central Criminal Court. The trial will start on Wednesday, December 31.” Al-Zaidi is accused of “aggression against a foreign head of state during an official visit” with the possibility of a 15 year term. The court could try to push a lesser offense of “attempted aggression.” However, that still comes with a one to five year sentence. Moreover, it is hard to see how a mere miss with two shoes is an attempt at aggression. That would require actual hits to be aggression — a rather curious standard for future cases.
Why would the Iraqi judge not want early and unlimited access by an international organization to this man? It would seem the easiest way to dispel or to confirm the allegations.
For the full story, click here.
19 thoughts on “Iraqi Judge: No Abuse Probe In Case of Shoe Thrower”
>We’re so quick to see our fellow man be held to the “letter of the law” when it’s little people like ourselves. But public officials, leaders and law enforcement are seldom held to the same standards.
But I wish to God they were.
>Many of us understand the anger the man has for Bush; however, breaking the law and encouraging others that might ‘copycat’ the ‘misdemeanor’ is not the correct precedent.
>We all understand the lure of folk heroism; although, we must not degrade our legal system just because we might agree that it is justified to allow a crime without punishment in this instance–since Bush is a tyrant–but not in other instances if we happen to disagree with the perpetrator.
You have summed up my greatest concern here: that this type of behavior will be encouraged. This behavior cheapens attempts at meaningful dialogue.
Chris, you seem to have the same problem as Jill who, btw, never even heard of the Center for Constitutional Rights until I posted an item here – several months ago… 😉 Now, I get to be on their mailing list- TWICE!
Patty C 1, December 19, 2008 at 4:34 pm
You are correct FFLEO. The two are separate incidents.
As you point out, this is not being heard in a US court, but under Iraqi law, nor being viewed as a simple assault, but ‘aggression against a president’ to which the defendant pleaded guilty.
… ‘ “Al-Zaidi was brought today before the investigating judge in the presence of a defence lawyer and a prosecutor,” said Abdul Satar Birqadr, spokesman for Iraq’s High Judicial Council. “He admits the action he carried out.”
The court decided to keep Zaidi in custody and, after the judge has completed his investigation, it may send him for trial under a clause in the Iraqi penal code that makes it an offence to try to murder Iraqi or foreign presidents.
The sentence for such a crime could be up to 15 years jail, Birqadr said.
Zaidi’s brother said on Tuesday that the reporter was hit on the head with a rifle butt and had an arm broken in the chaos that broke out after he threw his shoes at Bush and was leapt on by Iraqi security officers and U.S. secret service agents.
Rules, regulations, and laws serve as a necessary deterrent to criminal behavior.
The next pair of shoes may be hurled at someone most of us like, or perhaps at anyone of us who gives speeches.
We must have decorum to prevent chaos in open meetings where journalists are present. Many of us understand the anger the man has for Bush; however, breaking the law and encouraging others that might ‘copycat’ the ‘misdemeanor’ is not the correct precedent.
I have no expertise or training in criminal law involving judicial punishment so I will let the courts determine the appropriate punishment. My nonprofessional gut says 3-months of incarceration, 1-year probation, and an appropriate restraining order to protect other dignitaries with which al-Zaidi might come in close contact.
We all understand the lure of folk heroism; although, we must not degrade our legal system just because we might agree that it is justified to allow a crime without punishment in this instance–since Bush is a tyrant–but not in other instances if we happen to disagree with the perpetrator.
Again, this is an Iraqi legal decision and we all know how different their judicial system is from ours.
In fact you’ll find it gets younger and younger the closer you get to becoming that age.
It is when you’re my age.
62 Years old is not “Young man” territory anymore.
Chris 1, December 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm
“That shoe wasn’t just a symbolic gesture. He threw it with force, and it probably had enough heft to break Bush’s nose if it had landed the right way. Remember we’re talking about a hard leather shoe, not athletic wear that’s heavily padded.”
It was a symbolic gesture and your saying it’s not just demonstrates the problem with our lack of understanding of Arab culture. And I saw the video and that shoe was “flung” not thrown with any real intent to do harm.
Chris 1, December 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm
“But even if it “only” left a bruise, where do you draw the line and say that unwanted contact isn’t really an “assault”? Not everyone is healthy and young, the force that a young man shrugs off might leave his grandmother with broken bones and injuries that take months to heal.”
Bush IS a healthy young man in excellent physical condition and it most likely wouldn’t have even left a bruise had it landed. It was a shoe and it was traveling quite slowly which is why Bush so easily dodged both of them.
Chris 1, December 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm
“I think the only real test is intent. Bumping into somebody in a crowd is probably accidental barring other evidence. Throwing something at somebody with force is probably intentional assault, even if the missile itself is nontraditional and relatively lightweight.”
I agree intent is the test and it’s clear his intent was not to do Bush any real harm. It was a protest. There was no intent to do harm so the seriousness of that crime equates to me to the people who tossed eggs on Bush’s limo when he was inaugurated in 2000. It’s not like people haven’t tossed something at Bush before to show protest and contempt. In America when we don’t like a politician we toss Rotten Eggs. Rotten Eggs are a US staple for the disgruntled masses. In Iraq it’s the sole of the shoe.
Sometimes we just need to accept “all’s well that end’s well” and move on for the betterment of all. Sure the guy deserves a fine and don’t do it again warning. But that’s all. Beating him does not help a government’s cause, and prosecute him harshly and tossing him in jail and all you’ve done is make a martyr of him.
Not to mention making more people want to toss their shoes at you.
That shoe wasn’t just a symbolic gesture. He threw it with force, and it probably had enough heft to break Bush’s nose if it had landed the right way. Remember we’re talking about a hard leather shoe, not athletic wear that’s heavily padded.
But even if it “only” left a bruise, where do you draw the line and say that unwanted contact isn’t really an “assault”? Not everyone is healthy and young, the force that a young man shrugs off might leave his grandmother with broken bones and injuries that take months to heal.
I think the only real test is intent. Bumping into somebody in a crowd is probably accidental barring other evidence. Throwing something at somebody with force is probably intentional assault, even if the missile itself is nontraditional and relatively lightweight.
This is from the Center for Constitutional Rights. It speaks to their case on behalf of some Gitmo prisoners:
t’s been an interesting week in news regarding the US torture program. From Vice President Cheney admitting on national television that he authorized torture; to the release of a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee that found high level officials including Donald Rumsfeld directly responsible for the torture of detainees in U.S. custody; to exciting Supreme Court news in our case against Rumsfeld for torture on behalf of four British former Guantanamo detainees. The Supreme Court vacated and ordered the lower court to reconsider a terrible decision which included the finding that Guantanamo detainees are not “persons” under U.S. law and so have no right to be free from torture, and that officials couldn’t be held accountable because torture is “a foreseeable outcome” of military detention.
This article speaks a little to your rightful criticism of our nattering nabobs, aka, the press:
Yes, we seem to have successfully exported our brand of democracy to Iraq. Assaulting and arresting those guilty of exercising free speech rights is an every-day occurrence here. Remember the “Don’t taze me, bro” incident at a Kerry speech? Or the Falun Gong protester arrested and dragged away at a Bush press conference? Or the numerous people arrested in the halls of Congress for free speech attempts? Or those arrested outside the recent Republican Convention?
What we haven’t successfully exported yet is our government’s ability to successfully manipulate the press to demonize the protesters, then quickly shut up about these incidents. If I’m not mistaken, that will be on the To-Do list.
MASkeptic 1, December 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm
“Amazingly enough I actually agree with you on most of your points”
Will wonders never cease?
MASkeptic 1, December 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm
Nice use of our old spelling of “jailers” to illustrate their fledgling penal system. Nicely put.
MASkeptic 1, December 23, 2008 at 1:35 pm
“When someone chooses to protest in a manner like this I applaud them, but don’t act like there shouldn’t be any consequences at”
Well I’m not. I’m just saying the guys had his head kicked in due to the negligence of the courts in not protecting their prisoner while in their custody. Seems to me a prudent court would be able to balance the miserable beating this guy took with his “crime” and deduce that a fair move at this point would be to expedite his release and move to avoid any further tarnish to the image of the court.
Consequences have already been rendered, and severe ones at that. He was held in custody for his actions and the courts failed to hold him safely in custody so it seems to me the courts would see to release him determining no further harm should come to him for this minor act.
And of course if he had not been beaten by their gaolers while in his custody then he should have been found guilty of a class C misdemeanor or whatever the comparable crime would be under Iraqi law, held, booked, fined and sent on his way.
As for whether or not his paper should fire him I guess that’s up to the image of the paper and how they want to appear to their readers. If his tenure there has been commendable up to that point then it seems a stern warning and perhaps a suspension would have been sufficient, but as I said that’s up to the paper. The court would have no role there.
We’re so quick to see our fellow man be held to the “letter of the law” when it’s little people like ourselves. But public officials, leaders and law enforcement are seldom held to the same standards.
Here we have a guy who tossed a shoe at a man who violated dozens of international laws, our own laws, and even the Geneva conventions with actions resulting in the deaths of millions of people, and we’re worried about whether the guy who tossed the shoe is held until he’s payed the uttermost farthing.
While he’s not exactly an accessory to Bush’s crimes, Accessorius sequitur still comes to mind. This guy is facing years in prison for tossing a shoe at a guy who broke more laws that resulted in more actual harm than his shoe could have ever approached.
Amazingly enough I actually agree with you on most of your points, the guy should be out on ‘time served’, we do need to expect Iraq to behave like a democracy that is beholden to the people, and I agree to the level of the crime “like driving with a loud muffler is a crime”.
There should be an exhaustive probe into the conduct of his gaolers for the entire duration of his incarceration. but. BUT.
This man should lose his job and at the least he should be fined. He assaulted a foreign head of state (regardless of how you feel about his job performance) at a press conference, something I doubt his employer sent him to do. When someone chooses to protest in a manner like this I applaud them, but don’t act like there shouldn’t be any consequences at all.
Bidder #70 might be looking at some jail time for what he did, and God bless him for being willing to risk it. But he’s not trying to say that he was protesting so it shouldn’t count.
Good point Gyges! Maybe we should extradite him to Brighton–Book em’ for annoying the dear leaders, beat the crap out of him and hold him there indefinitely. The best democracy money can buy.
MASkeptic 1, December 23, 2008 at 9:39 am
“Need a dog have bit someone in the past to be considered aggressive? The idea that you must connect before you can be considered aggressive is just silly. This guy is guilty of some crime. Surely not one that would put him in jail for 15 years, but don’t pretend like all he did was sneer”
Well he did little more than sneer. The symbolic tossing of a shoe is a far cry from real acts of aggression.
I agree 100 percent with Professor Turley on this one both in substance and in spirit. Placing this symbolic act of protest in the category of real crime does not make sense and is a dangerous precedent to set.
This guy has suffered enough for this act and beyond a token fine and an authoritative “don’t do it again” the guy should be back working at the television station and contributing to society so Iraq can truly grow.
We claim we want to see a fledgling democracy bloom there (whether by choice or not) so if that’s true then why would be ask them to behave like a totalitarian police state.
This was a crime like driving with a loud muffler is a crime. It doesn’t make the guy a threat to society. Just perhaps a nuisance to those who are offended by it.
Patty C 1, December 19, 2008 at 1:46 pm
Just showing the sole of your shoe has great derogatory significance in Arab culture. Yet another example of how little ‘we’ knew before barging into Iraq with our magnanimous ‘gift’ of democracy…
Welcome to the ‘New and Improved’ Iraq, Mr. Bush.
That’s not fair. In our version of Democracy the man would have had a “free speech zone” from which to throw his shoe at a government approved target.
“Then there are the accounts of witnesses who say that they heard him screaming after being taken away by Iraqi security.”
Mission Accomplished. We’ve successfully imported our version of “democracy” to Iraq. cheney is all over the air waves admitting to authorizing torture, suddently consumed with the sure knowledge that congress approved it (like he cares!).
We choose our minion well in Iraq, replacing one evil strongman with another.
Need a dog have bit someone in the past to be considered aggressive? The idea that you must connect before you can be considered aggressive is just silly. This guy is guilty of some crime. Surely not one that would put him in jail for 15 years, but don’t pretend like all he did was sneer.
Bush needed a shoe to the head 6 years ago when he took the unified resolve of the American people and twisted it to his own agenda.
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