Man sets self on fire outside New York court where Trump trial underway

The incident happened shortly after jury selection for the hush-money trial was completed

By Reuters

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Police officers collect pamphlets dropped by a person who was covered in flames outside the courthouse where Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York. — Reuters
Police officers collect pamphlets dropped by a person who was covered in flames outside the courthouse where Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York. — Reuters

Published: Fri 19 Apr 2024, 11:57 PM

A man set himself on fire on Friday outside the New York courthouse where Donald Trump's historic hush-money trial was taking place, witnesses said.

A witness on the scene said he first heard the man throwing pamphlets into the air, then saw him douse himself from a can and light himself on fire. "At that point, I said: 'Oh shoot, what am I going to see?'" the witness told Reuters.


The witness, who declined to give his name, said the man burned for several minutes.

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CNN reporters said they saw a man engulfed in flames for more than three minutes. "I see a totally charred human being," one of them said on air.

The shocking development came shortly after jury selection for the trial was completed, clearing the way for prosecutors and defence attorneys to make opening statements next week in a case stemming from hush money paid to a porn star.

The downtown Manhattan courthouse, heavily guarded by police, drew a throng of protesters and onlookers on Monday, the trial's first day, though crowds have dwindled since then.

A smell of smoke lingered in the plaza shortly after the incident, according to a Reuters witness, and a police officer sprayed a fire extinguisher on the ground.

The 12 jurors, along with six alternates, will consider evidence in a first-ever trial to determine whether a former US president is guilty of breaking the law.

The jury consists of seven men and five women, mostly employed in white-collar professions: Two corporate lawyers, a software engineer, a speech therapist and an English teacher. Most are not native New Yorkers, hailing from across the United States and countries like Ireland and Lebanon.

Trump is accused of covering up a $130,000 payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she says they had a decade earlier.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and denies any such encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in three other criminal cases as well, but this is the only one certain to go to trial ahead of the Nov. 5 election, when the Republican politician aims to again take on Democratic President Joe Biden.

A conviction would not bar him from office.


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