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Lawyers group wants 'shoe' journalist tried in neutral country

CAIRO, December 15 (RIA Novosti) - The Arab Lawyers Union is looking to establish an international committee to take on the case of the Baghdad "shoe attack" journalist, Egypt's MENA agency said on Monday.

During a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nour Maliki on Sunday, Muntazer al-Zaidi, a correspondent for the Cairo-based al-Baghdadiya TV, hurled his shoes at the U.S. president, shouting in Arabic, "This is a farewell kiss from the Iraqi people, dog" and "This is for the widows and orphans and all those killed in Iraq." He was then overpowered by security personnel and taken away.

Although Bush was unhurt in the incident, Zaidi could face two years in jail for assaulting a leader of a foreign country. Showing the soles of shoes is considered a grievous insult in Arabic culture.

"The committee will fight for a fair trial for this journalist in a neutral country outside his occupied homeland," said the head of the ALU, Samih Ashur. He also stated that the ALU would protect al-Zaidi's life, "which at the moment is under threat."

Demonstrators rallied for his release in Baghdad, the southern Shiite dominated Basra, and the holy city of Najaf, where some reports said that shoes were thrown at a U.S. convoy.

Al-Zaidi is also being tested for alcohol and drugs, his shoes have been seized as evidence, said an official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We will also do everything so that the al-Zaidi trial brings George Bush to justice for his crimes against the Iraqi people," the ALU head added.

He said that leading Arab and foreign lawyers would be involved in the committee.

Bush, who dodged both shoes, said, "I don't know what the guy's cause is." He later commented that, "If you want the facts, it's a size 10 shoe that he threw"

The outgoing U.S. leader later signed a security pact under which U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2011. They are to withdraw initially from Iraqi cities by June 2009.

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