Baghdad, 12 March (AKI) - An Iraqi court on Thursday sentenced Iraqi journalist Montazer al-Zaidi to three years in jail for throwing his shoes at former US president George W. Bush at his farewell press conference in Baghdad last December. Al-Zaidi pleaded not guilty to the charge of assaulting a foreign leader on an official visit.
"My reaction was natural, just like any Iraqi," he told the judge. His lawyers had asked for his release.
Bush managed to miss both shoes, but al-Zaidi's gesture made international headlines and turned him into a hero in the Arab world.
As he hurled the shoes, al-Zaidi called Bush a "dog" and said they were a "farewell kiss" from those who had been killed, orphaned and widowed in Iraq.
His lawyers said al-Zaidi was just reflecting the sentiment of a war-torn country still inflamed by the US-led invasion and its aftermath.
Al-Zaidi, who was arrested and has been held in custody ever since, could have been jailed for 15 years.
His actions were condemned by the Iraqi government as "shameful" although Bush shrugged off the incident.
Al-Zaidi has claimed he has been mistreated in jail.