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1 angry Iraqi journalist + 2 flying shoes = 3 years

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APTN/AP/FILE

(Read caption) In this image from APTN video, a disgruntled journalist threw a shoe at President George W. Bush during a news conference with Iraq Prime Minsiter Nouri al-Maliki on Dec. 14. The journalist, Muntadhar al-Zeidi, will spend three years in prison for committing the ultimate Arab insult.

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Iraqi journalist and newly anointed Middle East folk hero Muntadhar al-Zeidi will spend three years in jail for throwing his shoes – the ultimate Arab insult – at President Bush.

Even though the ex-president laughed off the footwear fracas, which overshadowed his farewell trip to Iraq, the presiding judge in Baghdad wasn't so lighthearted about the matter on Thursday, when he handed down punishment.

Judge Abdul-Amir al-Rubaie followed the letter of the law when sentencing Mr. Zeidi for assaulting a foreign leader. To be sure, he could have been much more severe in determining the sentence – the maximum penalty is 15 years.

A spokesman for the court said Zeidi could appeal the decision.

In his defense Thursday, Zeidi told the court that he was not guilty and said what he did "was a natural response to the occupation."

The Monitor's Baghdad correspondent, Jane Arraf, reported that Zeidi was greeted like a rock star when he originally appeared in court last month.

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