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Who was Max Azzarello? US man who self-immolated outside Donald Trump's hush-money trial

A man has set himself on fire outside the court in Manhattan where former President Donald Trump's hush-money trial is being held.  The man doused himself in a liquid before throwing conspiracy-theory pamphlets into the air, police said.  His motive is unknown and police responded to the scene.

Who was Max Azzarello? US man who self-immolated outside Donald Trump's hush-money trial gcw
First Published Apr 20, 2024, 9:39 AM IST

The man who set himself on fire outside the New York court where Donald Trump's hush money trial was set to begin on Friday, threw a stack of pamphlets in the air containing conspiracy theories, before immolating himself. The man, identified as Max Azzarello, who had travelled to New York from Florida.

According to the NYPD Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, the man, Maxwell Azzarello, entered the park, handed out a number of leaflets, and then lit himself on fire. He fell nearly immediately onto an NYPD roadblock. Azzarello, a resident of St. Augustine, Florida, is currently in serious condition at Cornell University's burn center. He describes himself as a "investigative researcher."

Azzarello’s family has been informed of the incident by the authorities. While the motive behind the man’s actions remains unclear, law enforcement sources revealed that he is a part of a protestor group.

"(They were) almost like a conspiracy theory type of pamphlet, some information in regards to Ponzi schemes, and the fact that some of our local educational institutes are a front for the mob," Joseph Kenny, a senior police officer, stated.

The startling turn of events happened just after the trial's jury selection was finished, paving the path for the prosecution and defense teams to present their opening arguments the next week in a case involving hush money given to a porn actress.

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. In a first-ever trial, 12 jurors and 6 alternates will weigh the evidence to decide if a former US president violated 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.

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