Suspect in deadly Dutch tram shooting appears in court

BRUSSELS (AP) — Dutch prosecutors said Monday they have a “strong indication” that a man accused of fatally shooting four passengers on a tram in the central city of Utrecht in March had a “terrorist motive.”

In a written statement following a preliminary hearing at Utrecht District Court, prosecutors said 37-year-old suspect Gokmen Tanis left a handwritten letter in a getaway car that said in Dutch: “I’m doing this for my religion, you kill Muslims and you want to take our religion away from us, but you won’t succeed. Allah is great.”

Prosecutors added that their suspicions of a terrorist motive also stems from two statements Tanis gave to investigators before refusing to answer any further questions, and from the fact that he opened fire on people he did not know in a tram. They did not elaborate on the nature of the statements.

Tanis, a Utrecht resident of Turkish descent, was arrested hours after the March 18 shooting and is being held on charges including multiple murder or manslaughter with terrorist intent for the deaths of three men and a woman. Two other people were seriously injured.

Prosecutors said in March that Tanis had confessed to the attack and said he acted alone.

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He will shortly be admitted to a specialist center to undergo psychological tests, prosecutors said.

Dutch media reported that the father of one of his victims shouted insults at Tanis as he was led, handcuffed, from the courtroom at the end of Monday’s brief hearing.