UPDATED: A 49-year-old man who apparently had been turned down for welfare assistance in Norway approached the security control post outside the Oslo City Court Tuesday afternoon, suddenly doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire. He also threw an object at police but they quickly surrounded him, tore off his burning clothes and extinguished the blaze.
The apparent attempt at self-immolation occurred outside the courthouse where the trial of confessed terrorist Anders Behring Breivik is underway. Several other trials are also going on inside the courthouse, and police said they did not think the incident was tied to the terror trial.
‘Shoot me, shoot me’
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that cries from the entrance to the courthouse could be heard inside as well and that the man yelled “Shoot me, shoot me” several times. Police cars arrived quickly at the scene, the area outside the courthouse was cordoned off and firefighters also arrived along with an ambulance.
Kjell Kverme of the Oslo Police District told NRK the man, who has a police record, was seriously injured with burns on his chest and stomach. He was rushed to Oslo University Hospital Ullevål where he was due to undergo surgery on Wednesday. Police wouldn’t immediately confirm his identity, nationality or motive but he was said to have spoken Norwegian.
Police later said the man was a Norwegian citizen who had immigrated to Norway. News bureau NTB reported that he had visited a local attorney’s office just before the incident outside the courthouse, and left a packet of papers that he asked the attorney’s staff to take care of “in case something happens to me.” The man was not one of the attorney’s clients.
“It seems the man was a desperate welfare client,” the attorney, Bente Roli, told NTB. “The packet contained, among other things, a written rejection of his application for support.”
Trial continued as normal
The man was in a coma Tuesday night but the hospital reported that his injuries were not life-threatening. Police said they had been unable to question him, so his motive could still not be confirmed.
The doors to the courtroom where Breivik’s trial is underway were immediately locked but the trial continued as normal. Prosecutor Svein Holden said he had received a message that prompted them to decide against interrupting proceedings. He didn’t elaborate on the contents of the message.
His co-counsel Inga Bejer Engh later told VG Nett that they didn’t think the incident was connected to Breivik’s trial.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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