Matar officially charged with stabbing a famous author | News, Sports, Jobs

Hadi Matar is escorted to Chautauqua County Court on Thursday afternoon, as several members of the media record his every move. Photo PJ by Gregory Bacon

MAYVILLE — Hadi Matar, 24, walked into Chautauqua County Court wearing a striped, fully handcuffed prison suit, a white mask over his mouth and nose, and bright orange fangs for shoes.

There was a sea of ​​media sitting in the jury pool, filming his every step. He stood next to public defender Nathaniel Barone and faced County Court Judge David Foley.

He spoke very little; he said several times “yes” to the judge when asked if he understood what was going on.

It was in that same courtroom on Friday that Matar learned he was charged with attempted second-degree murder for stabbing famed author Salman Rushdie. He was also charged with second-degree assault for allegedly physically injuring another person in the knife attack. That other person is believed to be Ralph Henry Reese, 73, who was on the scene when Rushdie was attacked, but a copy of the indictment given to the media obscured the name of the second victim.

According to District Attorney Jason Schmidt, a guilty verdict for attempted murder carries up to 25 years and a guilty verdict for second-degree assault carries a seven-year sentence. The two convicts can run consecutively, meaning Matar faces up to 32 years in prison.

Schmidt also requested that Matar not be eligible for bail, which Foley granted.

Schmidt called Matar a flight risk and said he could easily flee not just Chautauqua County and New York State, but the country.

“If he were to get out of the Chautauqua County Jail, he could potentially leave the United States through countless foreign forces and from there to other countries that would protect him and we wouldn’t. would ever bring back to pay for the crimes that were committed against Mr. Rushdie, a guest of our community,” he said.

Barone argued that he thought his client should be released on bail. He noted that Matar had no criminal record and said Schmidt’s concerns were based on “speculation,” saying there is no evidence that anyone would fund Matar’s attempt to leave the country. After Foley denied bail, the public defender filed his objection on record.

Even though Matar will remain behind bars, Foley has also put in place a one-year restraining order or protection against the two victims, saying Matar is prohibited from contacting them in person, electronically, by mail or by phone. any other form of communication. He was also ordered to hand over any firearms he might possess.

Earlier in the week, Matar had a video interview with the New York Post in which Matar, while behind bars, explained how when he learned of Rushdie’s visit to the Chautauqua facility of months prior, he decided to go to the conference and try to take Rushdie’s life. .

This interview with the Post was cited by Schmidt as part of his argument to deny Matar bail.

The interview also seemed to upset Barone.

“I have spoken to the prison authorities, trying to get as much information as possible about this, and I have indicated and told the prison that at no time have I cleared anyone, with or without help from the government, to talk to Monsieur Matar, said the public defender.

Barone further asked Foley to bar anyone from interviewing his client in the future. Foley questioned Barone’s claim.

“I’m not sure as a county court judge I can tell the public that they are not allowed to contact the Chautauqua County Jail,” Foley said.

Barone said he understands, but wants to make sure his client is protected to the full extent of the law.

He went on to say that this case has caught the world’s attention. For this reason, and because Chautauqua County is a relatively low population, Barone requested that a gag order be placed, to prevent jury bribery.

“We have a limited jury pool. Every day that passes on this particular case, there are 10, 20, hundreds, thousands more articles,” he said.

Foley agreed the case got a lot of publicity and temporarily ordered attorneys on both sides to speak to the media. He did not say how long the gag order would be in place, but said he would accept arguments from both sides to consider lifting it in the future.

Matar of Fairview, NJ, is accused of stabbing Rushdie a dozen times before a conference at the Chautauqua facility on Friday, August 19. During court on Thursday, Schmidt said Matar lunged at Rushdie with his back to him and stabbed him three times in the neck. , four times in the belly, twice in the chest, in his right eye, his hand and his thigh.

Matar told the NY Post he did it because Rushdie disrespected Islam with his book “Satanic Verses” which was published in 1988. He said he was surprised that Rushdie survived the attack.

Multiple media sources reported that Rushdie is in critical but stable condition. He was temporarily on a ventilator and expected to lose his right eye, but he started talking.

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Lola R. McClure