A Baghdad court sentenced an Iraqi reporter who hurled his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush to three years in prison on Thursday, a verdict critics said was politically motivated.
Muntazer al-Zaidi earned instant worldwide fame in December when he threw his shoes at the U.S. leader, who spearheaded the 2003 invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, and called him a dog at a news conference.
“This sentence is harsh and is not in harmony with the law, and eventually the defence team will contest this in the appeals court,” said Dhiaa al-Saadi, the head of Zaidi’s defence team.
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who was standing next to Bush at the news conference and tried the block the second shoe, described the incident as a “barbaric act.”
Outside the courtroom, Zaidi’s sister Ruqaiya burst into tears when she heard the verdict, shouting “Down with Maliki, the agent of the Americans.”