Man in flames tried to enter Oslo court

A man set himself on fire on Tuesday outside the Oslo courthouse where Anders Behring Breivik is on trial for killing 77 people last year, but there was no evidence the two events were linked, police said.

Man in flames tried to enter Oslo court
Photo: Berit Roald/Scanpix

The man had early in the afternoon walked up to a large security tent outside the Oslo district court and sprayed himself, probably with a flammable liquid, before catching fire, a video published on the website of the Verdens Gang (VG) tabloid showed.

"Police officers pulled off his clothes and put out the fire," Kjell Jan Kverme, head of police security operations outside the courthouse, told AFP.

The man was seriously injured and taken to hospital, he added.

Police said the man was Norwegian of foreign origin and that the motives for his action remained unclear.

"We have no reason for the time-being to think this was linked" to the trial of Breivik, who was inside the courthouse when the man set himself ablaze, Kverme said.

The NTB news agency meanwhile reported the man was a 49-year-old desperate welfare client who had shortly before the incident gone to see his lawyer at her nearby office and, when it turned out she was not in, had left an envelope with the words "open if something serious happens to me" scrawled across the front.

When the lawyer returned to her office minutes after he left, she said she had smelled paraffin and had opened the envelope and found a letter rejecting his request for social aid inside, NTB reported.

In the VG video, the man can be seen running with his hat on fire and shouting "Shoot me! Shoot me!", before being tackled by police officers who tear off his burning sweater as he howls in pain on the ground.

Inside the courthouse, on the 19th day of Breivik's trial, young people wounded in his massacre were testifying about the shooting spree on the island of Utøya on July 22nd.

Breivik has been charged with committing terrorist acts when he bombed a government building in Oslo, killing eight people, before shooting dead another 69 in his rampage on Utøya.

The victims were there for a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party's youth wing, and the youngest had just celebrated her 14th birthday.

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist has confessed to the killings but has refused to plead guilty, insisting the shootings were "cruel but necessary" to stop the Labour Party's "multicultural experiment" and the "Muslim invasion" of Norway and Europe.

Except for causing many of the journalists covering the trial to rush out, the man who set himself on fire did not disrupt Breivik's trial, which began on April 16th and is set to last until late June.

Ina Rangønes Libak, a 22-year-old, told the court about how she had  survived multiple gunshot wounds on Utøya.

"I remember all the bullets that hit me. When I was hit in the arms, I thought: this is something I can survive. When I was hit in the jaw, I thought: this is more serious. Then I was hit in the chest, and I told myself: you can die from this," she recalled.

Libak had first hidden behind a piano in the cafeteria building where 13 people were killed, and was hit by at least four bullets.

"When you get shot that many times, you don't have enough hands to stop the bleeding," the young blonde said during her testimony, which drew both tears and smiles from onlookers in the courtroom.

Speaking in a clear, determined voice, Libak even made Breivik smile at one point when she recalled her satisfaction, in the name of gender equality, when she saw that the head of the rescue services that helped her on July 22nd was a woman.

While Breivik is expected to be found guilty, his 10-week trial will help determine the tricky question of his sanity and whether he will be sent to prison or to a mental institution.

If the court finds him sane, Breivik will face Norway's maximum 21-year prison sentence, but that term can be extended for as long as he is considered a threat to society.

If he is found criminally insane however, he will be sent to a closed psychiatric care unit for treatment — a fate Breivik, who is intent upon showing that his anti-Islam ideology is not the ravings of a lunatic, has described as "worse than death".


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Norway mosque shooter ‘has admitted the facts’: Police

A Norwegian man suspected of killing his step sister and opening fire in a mosque near Oslo last weekend, has admitted to the crimes though he has not officially entered a plea, police said on Friday.

Norway mosque shooter 'has admitted the facts': Police
Philip Manshaus appears in court on August 12. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB Scanpix / AFP
Philip Manshaus, 21, was remanded in custody Monday, suspected of murder and a “terrorist act” that police say he filmed himself committing.
Answering police questions on Friday, “the suspect admits the facts but has not taken a formal position as to the charges,” Oslo police official Pal-Fredrik Hjort Kraby said in a statement.
Manshaus is suspected of murdering his 17-year-old step sister Johanne Zhangjia Ihle-Hansen, before entering the Al-Noor mosque in an affluent Oslo suburb and opening fire before he was overpowered by a 65-year-old man.
Just three worshippers were in the mosque at the time, and there were no serious injuries.
Manshaus appeared in court this week with two black eyes and scrapes and bruises to his face, neck and hands.
Police have said he has “extreme right views” and “xenophobic positions” and that he had filmed the mosque attack with a camera mounted on a helmet. He had initially denied the accusations.
The incident came amid a rise in white supremacy attacks around the world, including the recent El Paso massacre in the United States.
Norway witnessed one of the worst-ever attacks by a rightwing extremist in July 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik, who said he feared a “Muslim invasion”, killed 77 people in a truck bomb blast near government offices in Oslo and a shooting spree at a Labour Party youth camp on the island of Utøya.