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Manhattan prosecutors are investigating whether an attack on a 68-year-old Sri Lankan immigrant riding the subway last week was a hate crime, they said in court Monday.
The revelation came as Marc Mathieu, 36, appeared during a video arraignment on an assault charge after he allegedly “sucker punched” Narayange Bodhi aboard the 1 train at Manhattan’s Franklin Street station on Friday.
“This is a bail eligible offense where the defendant sucker punched an elderly Asian man without any provocation on the train, punching him hard enough that the complaining witness lost consciousness for a period and causing a bleeding laceration to his head requiring medical treatment,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Katherine Demartini told the judge asking for bail to be set at $30,000.
“The people are further investigating if this case is a hate crime,” Demartini said.
Mathieu has two prior misdemeanor convictions for assault and not appearing in court and has two other open cases, Demartini said.
In fact, Mathieu was arrested the day before this incident in one of the open cases — on charges of menacing and criminal mischief in the Bronx, the prosecutor alleged.
Mathieu’s lawyer, James McQueeney, said, “My client denies this crime.”
McQueeney said he believes the DA’s office has a “weak case,” noting that Mathieu hadn’t been identified by any witnesses, with only clothing linking his client to the crime.
Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Michael Gaffey set bail at $25,000.
Cops on Sunday said they had no evidence that the assault was racially motivated. But a told The Post the assailant allegedly yelled “you motherf–king Asian!” as he punched Bodhi multiple times in the head.
“Within second blood was all over the [victim],” witness George Okrepkie, 56, said.
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