Case of Salman Rushdie
A judge on Thursday denied bail for a man accused of trying to kill Salman Rushdie as the famed author prepares for a talk in western New York.
Hadi Matar, 24, appeared in a western New York courtroom after a grand jury convicted him of rushing into the Chautauqua hospital scene and repeatedly stabbing Rushdie in front of a horrified crowd. Matar was arrested on August 12.
The first charges of attempted murder and assault were filed the day after Matar’s court-appointed attorney filed a plea of not guilty on his behalf. Prosecutors did not immediately release the new charges.
Matar, dressed in a black and white prison uniform, remained silent during the trial, but his lawyers unsuccessfully tried to persuade the judge to release him pending trial.
Court-appointed attorney Nathaniel Barone said Mattar had no criminal record and would not flee the country if released.
As part of this media outreach, Matar gave a short interview to the New York Post in which he spoke about his dislike of Rushdie and praised Iran’s late supreme leader, the great Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Mattar’s lawyers complained that media coverage could lead to jury bias.
Rushdie, 75, is being treated for serious injuries at a Pennsylvania hospital. His literary agent, Andrew Wylie, said Rushdie had suffered liver damage and a severed nerve in one arm that could cause him to lose his eye.
Authors sat in chairs by the lakeside, waiting for the debate to begin on protection and freedom of expression for exiled authors, when Matar jumped onto the stage on August 12th.
Chautauqua District Attorney Jason Schmidt said at a court hearing that Matar stabbed Rushdie in the neck, stomach, chest, hand, and right eye more than a dozen times before being stopped by shocked bystanders.
“He doesn’t care about his own freedom, judge, and is so driven by his motives that his mission to kill Mr. Rushdie is greater in his mind and outweighs his own personal freedom,” Schmidt told the judge.
Matar’s mother, Silvana Fardos, darted out of her two-story brick home in Fairview on Tuesday afternoon and ducked into a maroon sedan, a hat and medical mask covering her face. Reporters who had camped out on the quiet street shouted questions, but Fardos replied that she had “nothing left to say” and drove away.