Iraq’s shoe-thrower looks for an “informal” loophole
The New York Times reports today on “the first day of the trial of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush at a news conference in Baghdad two months ago”:
As the journalist, Muntader al-Zaidi, was escorted into the courtroom on Thursday morning, the crowd — family members, politicians, lawyers, even some Iraqi reporters — erupted into applause, shouting, weeping and ululating, drawing a rebuke from the judge.
That has to be awkward for the Maliki government — which, despite impertinent questions about how much the prime minister really minded the shoe toss, undoubtedly feels pressured obligated to punish al-Zaidi severely (the de riguer jailhouse beatings and other torture in the newly democratic and “free” Iraq notwithstanding).
Then again, this passage from the Associated Press account of yesterday’s events is intriguing:
The defense argued Thursday that the current charge is not applicable because Bush was not in Baghdad on an official visit, having arrived unannounced and without an invitation.
“The visit was not formal because Bush is an occupier and he was received by the commander of the U.S. Army and it was an undeclared visit,” lawyer Ghalib al-Rubaie said. . . .
Judge Abdul-Amir al-Rubaie recessed the trial until next month, saying the court needed time to ask the Iraqi Cabinet whether Bush’s visit was “formal or informal.”
Is this a serious legal question (which, if upheld, would give a whole new meaning to the term “casual day”)… or just a chance to look for a way out of sentencing a popular hero? Either way, it’s hard not to sympathize with the shoe-thrower’s explanation of his motive while watching Shrubya’s self-congratulation during the press conference:
“I was seeing a whole country in calamity while Bush was giving a cold and spiritless smile,” al-Zeidi testified.
Yep. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
(Cross-posted at Firedoglake.)