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Rushdie Case Prosecutors Ask for Delay to Pore Over Mountain of Evidence

MAYVILLE, N.Y. — The district attorney prosecuting the case against the man accused of stabbing the writer Salman Rushdie said on Wednesday that …

Rushdie Case Prosecutors Ask for Delay to Pore Over Mountain of Evidence
08.09.2022 01:52
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MAYVILLE, N.Y. — The district attorney prosecuting the case against the man accused of stabbing the writer Salman Rushdie said on Wednesday that his office was poring over 30,000 files and pieces of evidence as investigators tried to determine the suspect’s motivation and whether he acted alone.

Because of the large amount of evidence, Jason Schmidt, the Chautauqua County district attorney, told a judge at a hearing that his office needed more time — at least an additional 30 days — to process all the investigative files.

The prosecution is required to share all the evidence they have received with the defendant’s attorneys in a timely manner.

After the hearing, Mr. Schmidt said that his small office had just four attorneys to deal with felony cases for the entire county, and 13 attorneys in total.

“It’s an enormous undertaking,” he said. “I mean, we’re not an office that has that kind of manpower or resources. But we’re making do with what we can do.”

Because of a gag order in the case, Mr. Schmidt could not describe in detail the evidence his office had received. But he said it included documents, police reports, photographic and video evidence and witness statements.

He added that the police were trying to determine if an attacker acted alone, or if there was any other information that might lead to more charges.

On Aug. 12, Mr. Rushdie had been scheduled to speak at the Chautauqua Institution, a summer arts community in western New York, about 75 miles south of Buffalo.

As the talk was about to begin, prosecutors say, Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man from New Jersey, rushed the stage and attacked Mr. Rushdie with a knife, stabbing him in the face and abdomen. Chaos erupted, but some members of the audience were able to restrain the attacker as the author lay bleeding on the stage.

Mr. Rushdie was moments away from giving a talk on how the United States had become a haven for exiled writers.

Investigators have given no indication as to a motive in the attack. Mr. Matar appeared at the hearing at the Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville on Wednesday, wearing prison garb, handcuffs, a face mask and orange rubber shoes, but did not speak.

Mr. Matar, who was arrested at the scene, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree attempted murder and assault with a weapon.

Mr. Rushdie’s condition is unknown, but his agent previously said that the author’s injuries were severe, that he had been for a time placed on a ventilator and that he might lose an eye.

Mr. Rushdie became the target of a fatwa, or religious edict, after his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” was published.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the supreme leader of Iran, issued a statement calling for the author’s death for what he considered a blasphemous fictionalized portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.

Rushdie lived in hiding for decades, but recently began appearing in public again, declaring: “Oh, I have to live my life.” In 2012, Mr. Rushdie published a memoir, “Joseph Anton,” named after the alias he used for many years while in hiding.

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