• France's news in English

Asylum-seeker sets fire to himself in France

AFP · 4 Oct 2014, 06:56

Published: 04 Oct 2014 06:56 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The 38-year-old man, who was carrying a bottle, doused himself with petrol before setting himself on fire and suffered serious burns to his scalp and torso.

Pascale Girault, the secretary general of the National Court of Asylum, said the man's first demand for asylum was rejected by the Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People (OFPRA) a few months ago.

"He filed an appeal which was rejected" by the court, Girault said.

On Friday the man returned to the asylum court in the eastern Parisian suburb of Montreuil "for information on how his situation could be re-examined."

When staff at the front desk explained the decision he "doused himself in fuel and set fire to his clothes," said Girault.

Security guards used a fire extinguisher to put out the flames, said a police source.

In theory a request for asylum cannot be examined a second time unless the person furnishes new information, said a spokesman for OFPRA.

A police source said the man had arrived in France via Syria.

"He was two metres from the front desk, looked at the notice board and doused himself with a large bottle filled with a transparent liquid," said Maya Lino, who witnessed the scene.

"His eyes were glazed. He pulled out a lighter, tried a first time, it didn't work and everyone screamed," she added.

"He tried again a second time and burst into flames all the way to his head. He began running."

Every year some 40,000 asylum seekers appeal to the court after their cases are denied by OFPRA.

Story continues below…

If the court rejects an appeal, the asylum seeker is usually expelled from France.

"Often the decisions of the court are perceived as dramatic and I understand that because they can end someone's life plans," said Pierre Henry, director of an organisation which supports asylum seekers.

"But this was a desperate act, which fortunately is an exception. We should put our feelings aside and not exploit this tragedy to challenge an entire process," he said.

Of the 38,540 decisions taken by the court last year, 108 concerned Chadians. It found in favour of only 17 of these applicants.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Refugee crisis
What rights do Calais migrants have in France?
Photo: AFP

Can the migrants work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in Nice in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available