Tuesday, 23 Apr 2024

Dutch tram shooting suspect says he acted alone as he CONFESSES

Dutch tram shooting suspect says he acted alone as he CONFESSES a day after he was charged with ‘terrorist’ murders of three people

  • Gokmen Tanis, 37, apparently opened fire on Monday and killed three people
  • He faces charges of murder, attempted murder and making terrorist threats 
  • A judge has allowed Dutch police to detain Tanis for another two weeks  
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Gokmen Tanis (pictured) is suspected of shooting three people dead on a tram in Utrecht on Monday 

The suspected gunman in the deadly Utrecht tram shooting has confessed and said that he acted alone, Dutch prosecutors have announced. 

Gokmen Tanis, 37, faces murder and terrorism charges after apparently opening fire on Monday in a shooting which killed three people.   

The Turkish-born suspect is due to appear before a judge today.  

Tanis also faces charges of attempted murder or manslaughter and making threats with a terrorist intent.

The nature of Monday’s attack and a note found in a suspected getaway car suggest a possible terror motive, prosecutors have said. 

However the motive for Monday’s shooting is still under investigation. 

Tanis remains in custody after his detention was extended today by two weeks, the maximum allowed.   

Investigations continue into whether the suspect’s actions ‘flowed from personal problems combined with a radicalised ideology’, prosecutors said. 

Authorities said they had found a suspicious letter in a getaway car used by the Turkish-born suspect. 

The letter made them ‘seriously’ consider terrorism might have been involved in Monday’s rampage.

A 40-year old man, who was held on Tuesday because Tanis was arrested in his house, was released on Friday after authorities found no evidence to link him to the shooting. 

Two other men who were arrested Monday in connection with the shooting have also released. 

Emergency: Dutch special police forces inspect the tram in Utrecht after a gunman opened fire in the public transport carriage and killed three people 

Apparently ruling out reports that the shooting was due to a family dispute, the statement added: ‘Our investigation has established no link between the main suspect and the victims.’

The three people who died in the shooting were a 19-year-old woman from Vianen, south of Utrecht, and two men aged 28 and 49 from Utrecht itself, the statement said.

Armed police captured Tanis after an eight-hour manhunt that virtually shut down the Netherlands’ fourth largest city and saw security stepped up at airports and key sites across the country. 

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Police said they found a red Renault Clio that the suspect had carjacked before the attack and used as a getaway car afterwards. They had also found a firearm after his arrest. 

A stream of mourners laid flowers on Tuesday at the site of the attack near the 24 Oktoberplein square.

‘One of the victims was my friend’s girlfriend. So coming here today was the least I could do,’ Marco van Rooijen, 43, told AFP.

The attack raised security fears ahead of Wednesday’s provincial elections in the Netherlands. Populist and far-right parties have seized on the attack to push their agenda for the polls but Rutte has remained restrained.

‘A day later, I am still filled with horror,’ Rutte told parliament.

Tributes: Students lay flowers near the site of the shooting as Dutch police and prosecutors pursue ‘every lead there is’

‘There are still many questions about the motive, and the police and prosecutors still have to do a lot of work. But there is no doubt that the impact was huge.’

Flags were flying half-mast on many buildings around the Netherlands and on foreign embassies.

Public transport was running again after forensic police finished their investigations at the scene and removed the tram on which the shooting erupted. 

But there was also growing anger after it emerged that the suspect had only been freed from jail in a rape case two weeks ago.

Tanis was originally arrested in 2017 then released from pre-trial detention, before being taken back into custody when he breached his bail conditions, the central Netherlands district court said.

He was freed again at the start of March.

In 2014, he was also convicted of ‘illegal possession of weapons’ and attempted theft but acquitted of attempted manslaughter. He was also convicted in recent months for shoplifting and burglary.

Broadcaster NOS meanwhile said some of his relatives had links to fundamentalist Islamic groups, but also that he was known for unstable behaviour after divorcing his wife two years ago.

A woman involved in the rape case told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper: ‘He is completely mad and uses drugs. I have previously warned the police against him. He’s not a terrorist but a psychopath.’

Support for the Netherlands poured in from around the world, including the United States, the EU and Russia.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: ‘America stands with you. We will continue to do all we can to help you in this terrible time of tragedy.’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country’s intelligence agency was ‘looking into’ the attack. 

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