The Iraqi journalist who shot to global fame after throwing his shoes at US president George Bush claims he was tortured.
Muntadhar al-Zaidi was released on Tuesday after spending nine months in prison. Celebrations were already underway for the 30-year old’s release who had had his original sentence of three years for assaulting a visiting head of state cut to one year. Before arriving at the press conference, staff at his television station slaughtered three sheep in his honour. Slurring his speech because of a missing tooth Zaidi said: ‘‘They have tortured my people; elderly men, women, children and men over the past years, more than one million people have been killed, there are more than five million orphans, one million widows.’‘ Zaidi also demanded an apology from Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. ‘‘At the time while the Iraqi prime minister was talking at the news conference, I was severely tortured with various kinds of torture. I was exposed to electric shocks and beaten with cables and iron bars – I’m sure the participants in the conference were hearing my cries and groans.’‘ President Bush, who was on his final visit to Iraq, was unhurt but had to duck twice to dodge the incoming shoes. Seen as a hero to many, Zaidi’s outburst chimed with the feelings of a large number of Iraqis towards the US leader.