MAYVILLE, NY – Hadi Matar, the man accused of stabbing author Salman Rushdie at Chautauqua Institution and injuring another last month, was back in a Mayville courtroom on Wednesday .
Prosecutors are asking Chautauqua County Court Judge David Foley to issue a protective order for witnesses in the case, keeping their identities and contact details from Matar, arguing there is evidence he poses a threat to them.
“We never applied for a protective order along these lines, so I think in this situation there are exceptional facts,” said Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt.
The county’s chief public defender, Ned Barone, told the court that he had yet to see any facts to support Schmidt’s claim. Matar poses a threat, especially behind bars.
“It’s just speculation,” Barone said. “He didn’t demonstrate any threat from my client to any potential witnesses. He just didn’t.”
Schmidt is also asking the court for an additional 70 days, beyond the normal 20 days, to review all the evidence in the case, arguing that there are more than 30,000 records to review and also share with the defense.
“It’s difficult because we have a limited staff, like everyone else in this world,” Schmidt said. “We are usually overwhelmed without this case, so this case is a unique burden on us.”
Barone, against the order, says the DA’s office has only turned over one or two pieces of evidence so far, leaving him to wonder if there really is much more.
“What is it? Tell us what it is,” Barone said. “They went over their time limit. They didn’t do what they were supposed to do.”
What Judge Foley decided to do was give both sides more time to state their case on both issues and return to court on Friday.
“I thought it was good, quite frankly,” Barone said. “I think the judge proceeds with caution. Proceed in a knowledgeable manner. You don’t want any knee-jerk reaction.”
“It’s good,” Schmidt said. “We are ready to go on Friday and we will.”
Judge Foley is expected to rule on both issues at that time.