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Dutch prosecutors probe terror motive

Gokmen Tanis was arrested after a seven-hour manhunt on Monday by security forces and remained in custody

By Reuters
  • Published 20.03.19, 12:49 AM
  • Updated 20.03.19, 12:49 AM
  • a min read
  •  
A tram passes a rose placed at the site of the shooting in Utrecht. AP

Dutch prosecutors on Tuesday said they were investigating a possible terrorist motive behind the shooting on a tram in the city of Utrecht in which three people were killed and five wounded.

A Turkish-born man, 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis, was arrested after a seven-hour manhunt on Monday by security forces and remained in custody.

Prosecutors said he is suspected of three fatal shootings, possibly with terrorist intent. Two other suspects were also in custody, police said, but their role was unclear.

“Up to this point, a terrorist motive is seriously being considered,” prosecutors said in a statement, citing “the nature of the shooting and a letter found in the getaway car”.

But it remained unclear whether Tanis was acting on political beliefs or a personal vendetta. “Other motives are not being ruled out,” the statement said.

Tanis has a history of run-ins with law enforcement. He was convicted for illegal weapons possession in 2014 and for shop lifting and burglary earlier this month.

He was released from custody on March 1, after having been detained on suspicion of rape, the Utrecht District Court said in a statement released after his arrest on Monday. He is due to appear in court in July in relation to the rape charge, it said.

Under Dutch law Tanis must be brought before a judge by Thursday but does not yet have to be charged.

The three Dutch victims were identified as a 19-year-old woman and two men aged 28 and 49. Three others, ranging from 20 to 74 years old, were critically injured in the shooting. 

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