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Iraqi shoe thrower's case highlights prison abuses

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Evan Vucci/AP/File

(Read caption) In this Dec. 14, 2008 file photo, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zeidi throws a shoe at President George W. Bush during a new conference with Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad.

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The jailed Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at former President George W. Bush was due to be freed Monday but after much anticipation said his release had been delayed by “paperwork.”

Muntadhar al-Zeidi called his brother, Dargham, to inform him of the delay five hours after relatives had gathered to greet him with balloons and dancing outside the prison in central Baghdad where he is being held.

Dargham, who has alleged that his brother was tortured and has sustained numerous injuries at the hands of his captors, pledged to stage a sit-in until he is released.

Muntadhar was arrested after hurling his shoes at the US president and calling him a “dog” – both searing insults in the Muslim world – during a press conference in December 2008. In March, he was sentenced to three years in jail. His prison term was later reduced to one year because he had no prior offenses, and he was due to be released three months early for good behavior.

A spotlight on abuse of prisoners
The alleged mistreatment of Muntadhar is one of many cases that point to systemic abuse in the Iraqi detention system, as The Christian Science Monitor reported last week.

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