Following yesterday’s news that Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi had been jailed for three years for throwing his shoes at former US President George W Bush, here are ten other examples of the sometimes overly strong arm of the law.
1. British youth worker Keith Brown was sentenced to four years imprisonment in Dubai last year after customs found cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar under his shoe.
The 43-year-old, from Middlesex had been on his way from London to Ethiopia when he was stopped and searched at Dubai airport.
At first customs officers found nothing, but then a roll-up cigarette was spotted caught in the tread of his shoe.
Brown was later charged with possession of 0.003g of cannabis.
2. Many tourists visiting Singapore for the first time will often remark at how clean the country is.
This is in no small part due to the countries hyper-strict rules on graffiti and litter – chewing gum is outlawed for example.
The country’s hard-line stance came under the microscope in 1994, when American teenager Michael Peter Fay was sentenced to four whacks of the cane on top of eight months in prison for vandalism and graffiti.
Despite pressure from Bill Clinton, the then President’s intervention only resulted in Fay’s caning being reduced by two strokes.
3. In 2007, teacher Gillian Gibbons was at the centre of a diplomatic storm after allowing her primary school class to name a teddy bear Muhammad while working in Sudan.
Despite claiming it had been an ‘innocent misunderstanding’, she was found guilty of insulting religion.
The Liverpudlian escaped a sentence of 40 lashes after apologising to the court for any offence she had caused, yet was still put behind bars for 15 days.
She was released four days later after receiving a pardoned by Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, following worldwide pressure over the incident.
4. Minnesota single mother of two Jammie Thomas hit the headlines in 2007 after being slapped with a £110,000 fine for file-sharing.
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The music fan was driven to bankruptcy after being ordered to pay six record companies $9,250 for each of the 24 songs she had uploaded, which included tracks by Green Day, Guns ’N’ Roses, and Destiny’s Child.
5. In 2007, a Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in a Thai prison for defacing a picture of King Bhumibol.
In an alcohol-fuelled vandalism spree, Oliver Jufer was caught on CCTV spray painting posters of the monarch that had been put up for his birthday.
Thailand remains one of just a few countries in the world that still enforce laws where any criticism of the King or royal family is illegal.
6. In 2006 a Chinese court gave a stiff sentence to the founder of the country’s largest porn site.
Chen Hui, 28, was handed a life sentence for setting up bongo portal Qingseliuyuetian, or ‘Pornographic Summer’, which amassed over 600,000 paying members.
Having relaxed its stance on pornography after the puritanical reign of Chairman Mao, Hui fell foul of a country-wide crackdown in the run up to the Beijing Olympics.
7. In November last year, a Florida student was arrested for farting and continually turning off his classmate’s computer.
The 13-year-old boy was cuffed for “continually disrupting his classroom environment” before being released to his mother.
8. There was little Christmas cheer last December for a busking bagpiper after he was arrested for causing ‘distress’ to Christmas shoppers.
Despite making £50 within an hour from passers-by, Shaun Cartwright was handcuffed and driven to the police station in Bridport, Dorset, and his beloved pipes were seized following a single complaint from a shopper.
After being later released he was told it was not in the public interest to press charges and his pipes were returned.
9. A court in northern Malaysia last summer jailed four Muslim men for taking part in a transvestite beauty pageant.
The men were sentenced to seven days and given a £150 fine after pleading guilty to cross-dressing.
10. In 2004 a Berlin woman was fined for laughing too loud.
The woman, an architect named in court papers as Barbara M, had her house raided by police while hosting a dinner party, and later received a formal complaint from district authorities demanding she pay a €25 fine for “loud laughter between the hours of 18:00 and 22:30”.