MAYVILLE — For security reasons, the district attorney prosecuting the case against the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie is trying to get a restraining order to conceal the identities of witnesses during the pretrial process At the trial.
The defense is asking to see evidence as soon as possible to determine why a protective order is needed.
On Friday, Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley ordered District Attorney Jason Schmidt to release his evidence — including witness information — to the defense.
Foley said the defense could only share the information with each other and not with their client – defendant Hadi Matar, 24, of New Jersey.
Foley said he would decide whether to grant the protective order and its parameters on Wednesday.
Defense attorney Nathaniel Barone said he was satisfied with the decision.
“For a defense attorney to meaningfully participate in any type of hearing regarding a protective order, we need to know what they’re talking about,” Barone said after Friday’s hearing. “We need to have this information in advance. It gives me the opportunity to see why they are asking for a protective order.”
During a hearing on August 14, Schmidt argued that Matar had “targeted” Rushdie and was likely motivated by the fatwa or death threat issued by Iranian leaders against Rushdie over his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses “.
Schmidt said he didn’t want the witnesses to be in danger if their identity was “compromised”.
Barone maintained that Schmidt’s argument was “pure speculation”.
“I have argued before the judge and will continue to argue that unless there is direct evidence that there is a threat to these witnesses, you are denying my client the opportunity to meaningfully participate in the trial. help in his own defense by talking about these witnesses if he knows anything,” Barone said.
Foley will also decide on Wednesday whether to grant prosecutors a 70-day extension to process more than 30,000 potential evidence files gathered by law enforcement.
Schmidt said he has 20 days from Matar’s Aug. 18 arraignment to compile and share the evidence — as part of the discovery process — with the defense, but added that extensions are allowed in under New York State law in “exceptional circumstances”.
Due to the high volume of evidence involved, Schmidt requested an additional 70 days beyond the 20 days that had already passed.
Matar appeared in court on Friday in handcuffs. The defendant was apprehended on August 12 after authorities said he rushed to the stage at the Chautauqua facility amphitheater and stabbed Rushdie, 75, and injured fellow speaker Henry Reese , 73 years old. On August 18, he pleaded not guilty to second degree attempt. second degree murder and assault.
He was returned to the Chautauqua County Jail without bail.
Rushdie, who underwent surgery at UPMC Hamot Erie, is recovering and is able to speak, according to reports from The Associated Press. Reese, who suffered a minor facial injury, was released from an Erie hospital the day of the attack.