World/Foreign News

Man sets self on fire outside Trump trial

A man set himself on fire Friday in a park outside the court where Donald Trump is standing trial in Manhattan, with a witness describing him throwing pamphlets before officers rushed to extinguish the flames.

Burning clothes were strewn in the park, which was locked down by authorities, while ambulances lined up nearby on standby, an AFP correspondent at the scene saw, describing a strong smell of burning chemicals.

Video seemingly taken by witnesses and posted on social media showed a person standing engulfed in flames, then falling to the ground as police and plainclothes officers rushed to beat out the blaze.

One patrolman used a small fire extinguisher in an attempt to control the blaze.

A witness who gave his name as Dave, 73, told AFP he saw a man throwing pamphlets before dousing himself with an unspecified liquid and lighting himself on fire.

TV reporters described the incident unfolding moments after the full panel of 12 jurors and six alternates was selected for the trial of the former president in a hush money cover-up case.

It appeared hearings in the case would resume after lunch despite the incident, but later than usual at 3 pm (1900 GMT).

“A male did light himself on fire outside of the Supreme Courthouse. We’re still gathering details from the field,” said a New York Police Department spokesman who gave no motive for the man’s action.

– Tight security –
The latest incident recalls the US airman who set himself alight outside the Israeli embassy in Washington in February, and subsequently died, protesting the war in Gaza.

A fire department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment about Friday’s incident, but media reported the man had been taken away for medical treatment.

The self-immolation happened in a park opposite the 100 Centre Street courthouse, which has been used by authorities to corral protesters, both pro-Trump and anti-Trump, as well as well as by some members of the media.

Trump’s criminal trial, the first of a former president, is being conducted amid tight security in a 15th floor courtroom swarming with Secret Service officers as well as court police.

New York’s police department had promised a major deployment to ensure the trial passes off safely, with the force’s head of intelligence John Hart calling it a “major challenge.”

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