Salman Rushdie could confront man charged with stabbing him when trial begins in January

MAYVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Author Salman Rushdie could take the stand against the man charged with repeatedly stabbing him before a lecture when the defendant goes on trial early next year, a prosecutor said Friday.

“He is on the people’s witness list right now heading into trial,” Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said, following a court hearing in which the judge scheduled the trial for Jan. 8.

Hadi Matar, 25, has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and attempted murder. Authorities said the New Jersey resident left the audience and rushed the stage where the “The Satanic Verses” author was about to speak in August 2022, stabbing him more than a dozen times before onlookers intervened.

Rushdie, 76, who was left blinded in his right eye and with a damaged left hand, wrote about the attack in a memoir: “Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder,” due out April 16.

Matar has been in custody since immediately after the attack at the Chautauqua Institution, an arts and intellectual retreat in the rural southwest corner of New York state.

“I think the biggest hurdle for all of us is going to be picking a fair and impartial jury,” Schmidt said. He estimated the trial itself would last two weeks or less.

Rushdie was the target of a decades-old fatwa by the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini calling for his death over alleged blasphemy in “The Satanic Verses.”