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Friday, May 24, 2024  
15 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

Man sets self on fire outside NYC court where Trump trial under way

Full jury and six alternates selected for Trump's historic criminal trial
Emergency personnel respond to a report of a person covered in flames, outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, US on April 19, 2024. Reuters
Emergency personnel respond to a report of a person covered in flames, outside the courthouse where former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is underway, in New York, US on April 19, 2024. Reuters
Donald Trump attends his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 18. AFP
Donald Trump attends his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 18. AFP

A man set himself on fire outside the New York court where a full jury of 12 New Yorkers and 6 alternates was seated in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Friday, Deadline reported.

The incident was covered by CNN in real-time. Two law enforcement sources also confirmed the incident to the broadcaster.

People then rushed over with a fire extinguisher and worked to bat the flames away, video footage showed.

The court was being dismissed for a break right as the fire broke out, according to the Associated Press.

A New York emergency official said a person was taken away on a stretcher after apparently setting themselves on fire. A reason for the incident was not known.

Some witnesses said the man appeared to be calm before he doused himself with liquid. “It’s hard to even process in your brain,” another witness, who declined to give his name, told Reuters.

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. A smoldering backpack and a gas can were visible.

Police quickly taped off the scene of the incident. Nearby, a pamphlet was visible that referred to “evil billionaires” and called on people to “expose this corruption.” The portion that was visible to a Reuters witness did not mention Trump.

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.

Dave, the first witness, told Reuters that several pro-Trump protesters outside the courthouse scattered when the man set himself ablaze. The witness spoke with shaking hands and said he was left in shock.

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

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 theNov. 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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Donald Trump

United States