Saturday, June 19, 2004

Iranian refugee sets self on fire

Deputy quickly douses flames

By Ellen R. Stapleton
The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - An Iranian refugee holding a sign that read "Who's responsible" doused himself with gasoline Friday and set himself on fire in front of the Jefferson County courthouse, officials said.

FBI spokesman David Beyer said an initial investigation by the Joint Terrorism Task Force found that the man was not a terrorist.

"He has some personal issues unrelated to any terrorist matters," Beyer said.

Maj. Henry Ott, a spokesman for the Louisville Fire Department, identified the man as 48-year-old Morteza Mehrpou.

He was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition with minor burns, officials said.

Sgt. Robert Calbert, of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, said he could smell gasoline when he went to check the situation after getting a call from dispatch.

Calbert, who works at the courthouse, went back inside for a fire extinguisher and put the flames out within seconds.

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