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Iraqi Shoe Thrower Trial to Start February 19

An Iraqi judicial spokesman says the journalist who threw his shoes at former U.S. President George W. Bush during a news conference in Baghdad in December will go on trial on February 19.

The spokesman said Sunday Muntazer al-Zaidi faces a charge of assaulting a foreign leader. An Iraqi appellate court refused to reduce the charge.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The act made the reporter for Cairo-based television station al-Baghdadia a folk hero among many Arabs who resent the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

In violence in Iraq Sunday, a roadside explosion near a group of Shi'ite pilgrims in Baghdad killed two people and wounded 11 others.

Officials say the blast occurred as the pilgrims were heading to the southern city of Karbala for a religious festival.

Millions of Shi'ites gather in Karbala each year to mark the end of a 40-day mourning period for seventh century cleric Imam Hussein.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.