BAGHDAD, Dec 18 – Security agents destroyed the shoes thrown at US President George W. Bush by an Iraqi journalist during checks to ensure they did not contain explosives, the investigating judge said on Thursday.
"The shoes were examined by the Iraqi and American security services and then destroyed," the judge told AFP.
Journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, 29, has been in custody in Baghdad since Sunday’s dramatic shoe protest against Bush, which made him an instant sensation in the Arab world.
But the judge said the lack of the key piece of evidence in the case would not prevent the investigation from proceeding.
"I would have preferred to have had the shoes as evidence for the case but since Muntazer al-Zaidi has confessed to his action and that the television pictures confirm it, the investigation can continue," he said.
Zaidi’s brother has said he was hospitalised after being beaten by security guards and was suffering a broken arm and ribs, as well as injuries to an eye and a leg. There were no details on his condition on Thursday.
In Bethlehem, about 50 Palestinian journalists staged a bare-footed protest to show solidarity with Zaidi, who relatives and colleagues said had hurled the shoes because he detested Americans and Bush.
The sit-in came as hundreds of pilgrims gathered ahead of Christmas celebrations in the city where Christians believe Jesus was born.