MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – A Chautauqua County Court Judge sided with prosecutors Wednesday granting a protection order for witnesses to the attack on world-famous author Salman Rushdie at the Chautauqua Institution in August.
The hearing took place “in-camera” due to its sensitive nature, without the public, press or defendant Hadi Matar.
Judge David Foley reviewed witness information with DA Jason Schmidt and Public Defender Ned Barone to determine if it will be allowed in open court.
Matar’s attorney agreed to a temporary non-disclosure agreement, to keep the witness’s identities from his client. There is already a gag order in place, to protect case specifics from the public.
Under the order, identities of those directly connected to the attack and medical personnel on scene will be withheld from Matar, but not from his lawyer, up until trail. Law enforcement testimony, minus one unnamed official, will be disclosed.
The DA has argued that when event moderator Henry Reese tried to help Salman Rushdie following the stabbing, he was also allegedly attacked.
While Matar is behind bars, Schmidt had fears that others could act on his behalf, previously hinting at the fatwa, a $3 million bounty calling for Rushdie’s death, placed decades ago by the late Ayatollah of Iran because of Rushdie’s 1988 book “The Satanic Verses.”
This order will keep witness identities from being disclosed in open court, or to Matar, until a week before a full trial is set to begin. As for when an actual trail could take place, the DA says it could be over a year or more.
The DA’s Office now has an additional 60 days to go over evidence in the case before turning it over to the defense, after the judge agreed to an extension. The DA says he has received over 30,000 evidence files alone from New York State Police.