During the ongoing criminal trial against former President Donald Trump, a man set himself on fire in a park in front of the courthouse in New York. The man poured liquid over himself and set himself on fire, the New York Times and CNN, among others, reported unanimously, and CNN also showed live images. The surrounding people screamed and tried to help.

After a short time, police officers came and extinguished the flames. The man was then carried into an ambulance and driven away. The man was taken to a hospital and is in critical condition, the New York Fire Department said.

Leaflets with conspiracy theories

It was initially completely unclear why the man set himself on fire. Nothing was initially known about his identity. According to eyewitnesses and media reports, the man threw leaflets into the air before the crime that discussed various conspiracy theories.

The incident occurred at Collect Pond Park, directly across from the courthouse where Trump’s criminal trial is currently taking place. The courthouse is largely cordoned off and numerous police officers are on constant duty there. Dozens of media representatives with cameras and broadcast vans have gathered around. Opponents and supporters of Trump are allowed to gather in the park for demonstrations, but so far only a few have done so on the days of the trial. The area has barricades all around, but also open entrances.

The Trump trial was not affected by the incident, a court spokesman said. A White House spokeswoman said it was “very sad news.”

Difficult search for jurors

After the actual jury, replacement jurors were also found for the trial. After around four days of difficult searching, the jury for the first criminal trial against a former US president now consists of a total of twelve jurors and six substitute jurors.

The case against Trump involves hush money payments to a porn actress. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the Republican, who wants to be re-elected US President in November, of falsifying business documents. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

According to the court, the process could take up to eight weeks. If convicted, the 77-year-old faces a prison sentence of several years, which could also be suspended. Trump would also have the opportunity to appeal. Even after a possible conviction – and even in the event of a prison sentence – Trump is likely to run in the presidential election.

The background to the case is that Trump had $130,000 in hush money paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016, shortly before his election as president. She had claimed to have had sex with him. Trump denies an affair, but does not deny that money was flowed. Non-disclosure agreements between two parties are not inherently illegal. However, Trump is accused of illegally recording the payments, trying to conceal them illegally and thereby trying to cover up other violations of the law.