BEIRUT: A man tried set himself on fire Friday in front of Beirut’s Justice Palace after a court decision he waited for 10 years, the state-run National News Agency reported. The NNA said that George Kh. poured diesel on himself before setting himself on fire near an Internal Security Forces checkpoint near the Justice Palace in Adlieh.
The man was protesting against a court decision which was issued 10 years after he placed a complaint, he told TV channel MTV from his bed at Geitawi Hospital. He said he filed the lawsuit after a former employer failed to pay him some $12,000 for his work as a contractor.
After a lengthy trial, he was awarded only $3,400, around a quarter of what he was owed, he said.
“This is a problem for all contractors ... and is the fault of the contractors’ syndicate,” he told MTV, adding that he hoped that his attempted self-immolation would attract the attention of Justice Minister Albert Serhan.
“I appeal to the justice minister. I have full faith in the courts. I appeal to the public prosecutor to bring me justice and carry out a proper investigation into the matter,” he told the TV station.
The NNA cited eyewitnesses near the ISF checkpoint who claimed that the man was mumbling incomprehensibly in addition to asking for medication.
“The officers on the scene rushed to extinguish the blaze before the man lost consciousness,” falling to the ground, the NNA reported, adding that Judge Raja Hamouch requested an investigation to be opened in the incident.
A statement from the Justice Palace confirmed the incident, adding that members of security on duty at the time were shocked by the incident and called the Red Cross, who took him to Geitawi Hospital for treatment.
Local TV channel Al-Jadeed reported that the man was not “entirely burned” and would be discharged from the hospital. A doctor at the hospital told MTV that the man suffered from second and third degree burns over 15 percent of his body, mostly on his arms and stomach.
According to Al-Jadeed, the man’s brother, who had arrived to help him to the hospital, was arrested by security forces for an unrelated misdemeanor.