A rejected asylum seeker who was sentenced to nearly 12 years in prison for raping a woman in front of her boyfriend has tried to burn himself alive in his prison cell, say reports.

Ghanaian national Eric X was handed an 11 year and a half years imprisonment after he raped a 23-year-old woman at knifepoint in front of her boyfriend at a campsite near Bonn, west Germany.

The 31-year-old committed the rape in April last year and was jailed in October for the brutal sexual assault in the Siegaue Nature Reserve campsite.

During the trial, the defendant, known as X because of Germany's strict privacy laws, denied the rape, near the city on the Rhine.

He said: "If the court says the DNA fits, then I have to call the girl a prostitute. Anyone who supports this girl who claims to have been raped is the dirtiest person on earth."

Now the Daily Mail has reported that X tried to commit suicide in his maximum-security jail cell by setting fire to his bedding.

On the day of the fire, Tuesday (13 February), it was reported that a local prosecutor in Cologne told him of an extension to his sentence for the assault.

Bild reported that X may now need skin grafts as he has suffered third degree burns on 30 per cent of his body.

The rapist is now being kept in an induced coma at Cologne Merheim Hospital with other German media reporting that his most severe injuries are on his face and stomach.

It has been claimed that since he was imprisoned X has been on a so-called "jailhouse terror" threatening jail staff and other inmates.

His crime was a particularly brutal rape, where he threatened the woman and her boyfriend with a branch saw, after he broke into their tent, and dragged the woman away.

X was branded highly dangerous by a psychiatric expert during his trial and the court heard that just days before the rape, he was told by German authorities that he was to be deported to Italy, where he had first entered the Schengen zone.