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Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist Could Face Prison Sentence
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Brother claims al-Zaidi was beaten in custody

Hundreds protest for second day in support of journalist

Mark Tran and agencies

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush appeared before a judge yesterday on charges of "aggression against a president".

The court decided to keep Muntazer al-Zaidi in custody, and after an investigation is carried out the judge may send him for trial under a clause in the Iraqi penal code that punishes anyone who attempts to murder Iraqi or foreign presidents.

Such a crime could result in imprisonment of seven to 15 years.

His brother claimed yesterday that the television reporter had been beaten in custody.

Zaidi suffered a broken hand, broken ribs, internal bleeding and an eye injury, his older brother, Dargham, told the BBC.

Iraqi security took Zaidi into custody after the incident and interrogated him about whether he had been paid to throw his shoes at Bush on Sunday, according to officials.

It emerged yesterday that the incident at a joint press conference by Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday was not without at least one casualty.

The US president's press secretary, Dana Perino, was sporting a black eye after being struck by a microphone stand during the melee.

Zaidi's act has generated a wave of support across the Arab world, with hundreds taking to the streets of Baghdad and other towns yesterday demanding his release.

"Muntazer al-Zaidi has expressed the feelings and ambitions of the Iraqi people toward the symbol of tyranny," Nassar Afrawi, a protester in Nassiriya, said.

Throwing shoes is a deep insult in the Arab world. The head of the Iraqi union of journalists described Zaidi's action as "strange and unprofessional", but urged clemency.

SOURCE: The Guardian