Trial date set for suspect in Salman Rushdie stabbing, with the author expected to testify

The man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie and another person onstage has been scheduled for trial in January, prosecutors say.

Hadi Matar is expected to stand trial January 8, Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said Friday. He said the trial could last about two weeks.

Schmidt said he plans for Rushdie to testify.

“I’ve already been in touch with representatives of Mr. Rushdie to alert him that we anticipated that we would have this trial date so that we can start to prepare for it,” Schmidt said.

Rushdie, one of the world’s most celebrated writers, endured death threats after his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” angered many Muslims, who considered it sacrilegious. The late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini called for his death and Rushdie spent a decade under British protection.

On August 12, 2022, Rushdie was attacked and seriously injured as he prepared to give a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. An assailant jumped onto the stage and stabbed him and another man.

Rushdie suffered three stab wounds to his neck, four to his stomach, puncture wounds to his right eye and chest, and a cut on his right thigh, Schmidt said. Rushdie was blinded in the eye and the attack also affected the use of one of his hands.

A week after the stabbing, Matar, then 24, pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and second-degree assault, CNN previously reported.

A judge ordered him held without bail.

“He’s maintained his innocence on the matter,” said Matar’s attorney, Nathaniel Barone. “The one thing I’ve stressed throughout this is, everyone is entitled to their day in court, and there’s the presumption of innocence that’s the most important constitutional right that we can have, any one of us.”

Barone said they’re “looking forward” to trying this case. “I think it gives us an opportunity to move forward.”

He said Matar has been cooperative, understanding and patient. “It’s not an easy situation for him, someone who’s never been in trouble before, ever,” Barone said.

Matar could face up to 25 years in prison for the attempted murder charge on Rushdie, and seven for the assault charge on the other speaker, a prosecutor said in court.

Police have not disclosed a motive.

Rushdie has a memoir, “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” set to be published next year.

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