Man sets himself on fire outside Breivik trial court in Norway

Story highlights

  • The man is a Norwegian citizen with a foreign background, police say
  • The man suffered severe injuries and will have surgery Wednesday, police say
  • Police say the man's motives for setting himself afire remain unclear
  • Anders Behring Breivik is on trial on charges of committing acts of terror and voluntary homicide

A man set himself on fire Tuesday outside the court in Norway's capital, Oslo, where Anders Behring Breivik is on trial over terrorist attacks last summer that killed 77 people.

"We don't know much about his motives, but he set himself alight outside the courthouse. Police were quick to put the fire out, and he has now been taken to hospital," Unni Groendal, head of media for Oslo police, told CNN.

Police said in a statement released later Tuesday that the man was a Norwegian citizen from a foreign background.

He has severe injuries, but they are not life-threatening, the statement said. He is expected to have surgery early Wednesday.

"It is still unclear what the motive was for his action. He can currently not be questioned by police," the statement reads.

A police spokesman earlier dismissed reports that the man had tried to force his way through the cordon outside the district courthouse.

Breivik claims killing was 'necessary'
Breivik claims killing was 'necessary'


    Breivik claims killing was 'necessary'


Breivik claims killing was 'necessary' 03:45
Alleged mass killer shows no remorse
Rightwing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in twin attacks in Norway last year arrives in court on April 16, 2012, for his trial .


    Alleged mass killer shows no remorse


Alleged mass killer shows no remorse 02:57
Prosecution concerned with Breivik sanity
Prosecution concerned with Breivik sanity


    Prosecution concerned with Breivik sanity


Prosecution concerned with Breivik sanity 03:43

Norwegian daily newspaper VG reported that several court employees ran out with water bottles to pour water over the man.

Video posted on the VG website shows the man running toward the court building with his hat and jacket on fire. Police officers then pull off his clothing and try to extinguish the flames as he lies on the ground.

He was given first aid treatment on site.

The incident happened about 1:45 p.m. local time (7:45 a.m. ET), according to Norwegian TV channel TV2.

Breivik is on trial on charges of voluntary homicide and committing acts of terror in the July 22 attacks. He admits carrying out an attack on a youth camp on Utoya Island and a bombing in Oslo that killed eight people.

He boasts of being an ultranationalist who killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway.

Experts' assessment of Breivik's sanity will be a factor in determining what punishment he receives if convicted. Sentencing options could include imprisonment or confining him to a mental facility.

Friday's court session was disrupted when the brother of one of those killed threw a shoe toward Breivik, hitting one of his defense lawyers.

This week, the court is hearing testimony from some of those injured during Breivik's gun rampage on Utoya Island.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.