The trial of the wife of Pulse shooter Omar Mateen has taken a dramatic twist – after it emerged that Mateen’s father was an FBI informant.
Forty-nine people died at Orlando’s Pulse gay club during a horrific mass shooting in June 2016, when Omar Mateen, who had pledged support for ISIS, opened fire at the crowd.
At the time it was the most deadly mass shooting in recent US history, though it has since been surpassed.
Mateen was killed in a shootout with the local police during the attack, but his wife Noor Salman is currently standing trial over allegations that she knew about the attack in advance.
But there was a dramatic development in the case this week, as Salman’s lawyers pushed for a mistrial – alleging that prosecutors failed to provide information to their client.
The defence alleges that Omar Mateen’s father Seddique Mateen was an FBI informant between January 2005 and June 2016 – details they claims were concealed ahead of the trial.
The FBI had previously confirmed it investigated Omar Mateen twice ahead of the attack but concluded he was not a potential terrorist.
The Intercept reports claims that FBI agents consulted Mateen’s father, who was already an FBI informant at the time of the investigation into his son.
Salman’s lawyers claimed: “Because the government violated Ms Salman’s Fifth Amendment right to due process and Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial, this Court must dismiss the Government’s case.
“In the alternative, if this Court does not dismiss this action, it should order a mistrial in order to safeguard these fundamental constitutional rights. Indeed, an analysis of the government’s conduct in this case establishes a consistent pattern of withholding evidence that directly impacted presentation of Ms Salman’s defense.”
However, the motion was dismissed.
Judge Paul Byron denied the motion, saying: “It doesn’t change the dynamic about this case involving Noor Salman.”
Salman, 31, stands accused of obstruction of justice and of aiding and abetting Mateen over the attack.
She stands accused of knowing about the plans for the attack in advance, but her attorneys and family insist she did not know what her husband was planning.
Prosecutors believe that while planning the shooting, Mateen asked Salman whether attacking a Disney site would have a bigger impact than attacking a nightclub.
It was also previously alleged she had “driven him to the gay nightclub, Pulse, because he wanted to scope it out” and “was with him when he bought ammunition and a holster”.
But Salman’s uncle Al Salman insists that the 30-year-old was “simple and innocent”, and that she had been abused by Mateen.
If found guilty, Salman could face life in prison. A group of survivors have also threatened a civil lawsuit against her.