'No relationship yet found between Utrecht shooter and victims,' police say

Utrecht police and the public prosecution department said on Tuesday morning they have not yet established any relationship between the main suspect in the Utrecht shooting and his victims. Three men are currently in custody in connection with the triple murder, including chief suspect Gökmen Tanis, who was arrested in the city in the early evening. Last night the policed reported that the main suspect, a 37-year old man from Utrecht, was arrested in a house at the Oudenoord in Utrecht. No direct relations have been found between the main suspect and the victims. #24oktoberplein — Politie Utrecht (@PolitieUtrecht) March 19, 2019 The motive for the shooting, in which three people died and three were seriously injured, remains unclear, with police refusing to rule out either terrorism or a relationship issue. Eyewitnesses said the killer appeared to be aiming at a woman when he opened fire on the tram in Utrecht at 9.45am on Monday. Car However, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday that the note left in a red car, believed to be the getaway vehicle, led them to suspect terrorism. 'Until now, we are looking seriously at a terrorist motive,' the department said in a statement. 'The note found in the getaway car and the nature of the facts would indicate this. Other motives have not been ruled out and these are being looked into.' The department also gave more information about the victims. The three people killed  are a 19-year-old girl and two men, aged 28 and 49. The three people who were seriously wounded are a 20 year old woman, a 21-year-old woman and a 74-year-old, the statement said. Four other people were slightly injured in the ensuing chaos. Shooter More information has also emerged about the shooter, Gökmen Tanis, who is described by the AD as ‘an unstable, cocaine ridden, drugs dealer’ and was arrested early on Monday evening. He was in court two weeks ago on rape charges and his victim told the AD Tadis is ‘a psychopath, not a terrorist’. His father, who divorced Tanis’ mother in 2008 and returned to Turkey, told Turkish newspapers he had not had contact with his son for 11 years. ‘Let him serve his sentence for the atrocity,’ Mehmet Tanis said. The other two men arrested are brothers aged 23 and 27 who are not related to Tadis. 'My client is completely in the dark about why he has been arrested,' lawyer Anis Boumanjal is quoted as saying by broadcaster NOS.  More >

Utrecht shooter was facing rape trial

The main suspect in the Utrecht tram shooting has a criminal record and was released from jail ahead of his trial for rape on March 1, the Dutch courts have confirmed. The Midden Nederland court, which covers Utrecht and Flevoland, issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon stating that Gökmen Tanis had been charged with rape in July 2017 but was released from custody that September to await trial. However, after failing to meet the terms of his release he was picked up again in January this year, and went to court several times asking to be let go. On March 1 'in line with the standpoint of the defence and the public prosecution department he was released under licence' the statement said. Voorarrest Gökmen T. in lopende zedenzaak https://t.co/oydqDt81TQ pic.twitter.com/3EA0slrRl1 — rb Midden-Nederland (@rechtbankMNL) March 19, 2019 Since then Tanis has been sentenced to two weeks in jail for shoplifting and four months for burglary but neither case was definitive, the statement said. Neither crime would merit being remanded in custody, broadcaster NOS said. The court also confirmed that in 2014, Tanis was jailed for 150 days, 149 suspended, for the illegal possession of a gun and attempted robbery but was found not guilty of attempted murder. According to the Telegraaf, Tanis was tracked down after he used a friend's phone to access his bank online and transfer money.  More >

Utrecht shooting investigation continues

Three people are in custody in the investigation into Monday's tram shooting in Utrecht which left three people dead and five people injured, three seriously. A third person was arrested overnight and despite reports that all but the main suspect have been released, police said all three remain in custody and are being treated as suspects. Flags on government buildings are hanging at half mast on Tuesday, as a sign of respect to the victims and people have begun placing flowers at the location of the shooting on 24 Oktoberplein. Vlag halfstok op Domtoren @GemeenteUtrecht @UOV_info @RegiotramU pic.twitter.com/zviVdm02mK — R. Wientjes (@HyRob) March 19, 2019 Although the victims have not yet been formally identified, one of the dead is said to be a 19-year-old woman, Roos Verschuur,  who worked in a branch of Delifrance. Another was named as Rinke Terpstra, a father of two who trained youth teams at a local football club. More information has also emerged about the shooter, Gökmen Tanis, who is described by the AD as 'an unstable, cocaine ridden, drugs dealer' and was arrested early on Monday evening. He was in court two weeks ago on rape charges and his victim told the AD Tadis is 'a psychopath, not a terrorist'. His father, who divorced Tanis' mother in 2008 and returned to Turkey, told Turkish newspapers he had not had contact with his son for 11 years. 'Let him serve his sentence for the atrocity,' Mehmet Tanis said. The big Dutch newspapers all have the shooting on their front pages and none call it a terrorist incident, although the Telegraaf speaks of the 'terrorist alarm' in Utrecht, when the threat level was temporarily raised from four to five. Some newspapers say that Tanis' brother is known to the security services and may have links to terror groups. This could explain why the shooting is being seen as a potential terrorist attack, broadcaster NOS said. The authorities hope to have more clarity about the motive for the shooting later on Tuesday. Prime minister Mark Rutte is meeting the justice and home affairs ministers at 9am. More to follow  More >

Dutch light up less, half overweight

The Dutch are smoking and drinking less, but official targets for improving health remain far off, national statistics office CBS and addiction monitor Trimbos Institute have found. The number of overweight people remained stable, with half of the Dutch population in the overweight category while 15% are classified as obese. The biggest decline is in the number of people who smoke. In 2014, 25.7% of the adult population were lighting up but this fell by over one percentage point to 22.4% in 2018. The number of people who drink too much (more than 14 units of alcohol a week for women and 21 for men, according to government guidelines) went down from almost 10% in 2014 to 9% in the same period. The number of heavy drinkers ( more than 4 units for women and six for men a day at least once week) remained the same. Some 35,000 people in the Netherlands a year die from the effects of smoking, being overweight or problem drinking. The Nationaal Preventieakkoord, a government prevention programme, aims to bring back the number of smokers and problem drinkers to 5% and the number of overweight people to 38% by 2040. The number of overweight and obese children has also remained stable between 2014 and 2018. Almost 12% of Dutch children between the ages of four and 18 are currently classified as overweight and 2.7% as obese.  More >

More British nationals move to NL

The number of Dutch nationals moving to Britain has dropped sharply since the Brexit vote in 2016, but more British nationals are moving to the Netherlands, according to national statistics agency CBS. Until 2016 there was a steady increase in Dutch immigration to the UK, but last year 3,000 made the move, the lowest number since 2009. Since the Brexit vote, Dutch emigration to Britain has fallen almost 30%, the CBS said. At the same time, the number of British nationals coming to the Netherlands continues to rise. In 2018, 5,800 people made the move, a 40% increase on 2015. More British nationals are also returning home – some 3,000 went back to the UK last year, the CBS said. Earlier this year it emerged that record numbers of British nationals are also becoming Dutch to beat Brexit. In January alone, 80 British citizens in the Netherlands gave up their British nationality to become Dutch nationals, compared with just 19 in the whole of 2015. In 2018, 200 British nationals agreed to renounce their British nationality and become Dutch. A further 1,128 British people became dual nationals last year after becoming Dutch using the alternative option route. Two passports Research by this website last October showed that just 10% of British nationals had applied for Dutch nationality and that the rules on having two passports are a major stumbling block. Asked why they had not done so, 41% said they did not want to give up their British passport. A further 14% said they were worried that becoming Dutch would affect their right to return to Britain for a longer period and 20% had not lived in the Netherlands long enough to qualify. Some 86,000 people with British nationality currently live in the Netherlands, of whom 47,000 are first generation migrants, according to figures from the national statistics office CBS.  More >

Low key election campaigning resumes

Political parties resumed campaigning for Wednesday’s provincial elections on Tuesday morning, after all but Forum voor Democratie called a halt in the wake of the Utrecht shootings. After a meeting on Tuesday morning, campaign leaders said that their supporters would be back on the streets but that the approach would be more low-key ahead of tomorrow's vote, the AD reported. It is still unclear if tonight's scheduled television debate between the main party leaders will take place, or whether priority will be given to a debate on the Utrecht shooting in parliament, the AD said. FvD pressed ahead with its supporters’ meeting in Scheveningen on Monday evening and party leader Thierry Baudet used the event to draw a link between the shooting, immigration and the policies of the main conservative parties VVD and CDA. Asked afterwards if he was capitalising on the murders, Baudet said ‘he did not recognise himself’ in the claim. Capitalising However, RTL political commentator Frits Wester described Baudet’s performance as low. ‘If you want to go ahead with a meeting and talk about what has happened with your supporters, I can understand that,’ he said on a television talk show. ‘But to use such an event, whether terrorism or relationship-related, to make a political point, is extremely low.’ FvD is set to do well in the provincial vote, the results of which will be used to determine the political make up of the upper house of parliament. Some polls indicate the anti-immigration and anti-EU FvD could emerge as the second biggest senate party behind the VVD.  More >

More backing for climate change plans

The Dutch have become more open to the government's plans to tackle climate change since the decision to include a carbon tax for heavy industry in the package, according to a survey by I&O Research on behalf of the AD. Some 33% now say they are positive about the government's strategy, compared with 25% three weeks ago, before the u-turn on a carbon tax. Some 27% are now negative about the plans, down from 33% during the first survey, the AD said. 'Most voters would appear to value the fact that the prime minister has shown leadership,' spokesman Peter Kanne told the paper. Some 76% of those polled said they welcomed the decision to include the tax on polluting industries and 73% are pleased the tax on energy is to be reduced. Earlier this month the government said it would cut energy taxes for private households and bring in some form of carbon tax for heavy industry. The concessions followed the publication of two reports on the cabinet’s climate plans which said consumers would pick up most of the bill for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  More >

Fixed costs eat up more salary

Dutch households are spending more of their income on fixed costs, such as energy bills, health insurance, rent and mortgages increase, according to research by family spending institute Nibud. Fixed costs now account for an extra 5% of spending compared with 10 years ago, before the financial crisis, Nibud said. A household with an modal income of €2,252 per month is spending 55% of their net income on fixed costs, Nibud said. 'This explains why so many people - almost 40% - have difficulty making ends meet,' director Arjan Vliegenhart said in a statement. 'Additional costs, such as higher health insurance premiums, result in financial stress,' he said. Home owners on higher incomes have slightly more to spend after deducting fixed costs because mortgage rates have gone down in the past few years. However, they  are still spending 45% of their income on essentials, which is up from 40% ten years ago. Earlier Nibud research shows that the percentage of households which don't always pay their rent or mortgage on time went up from 12% in 2012 to 19% in 2018.  More >

No progress on Schiphol US passport checks

Talks between the Netherlands and the US on introducing passport controls at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport continue to proceed 'with difficulty', US ambassador Pete Hoekstra has told the Telegraaf. 'The process is slow and we are at the point where I have to ask myself "yes or no",' Hoekstra is quoted as saying. 'If the answer is "no", that's fine, just say it. The we can put our energy elsewhere. There are enough other European countries which are interested.' Talks on introducing passport checks by US officials at Schiphol have been ongoing since December 2016 but were first mooted in 2015. Earlier this month, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands wrote to the Dutch government, urging progress on the pre-clearance system. In particular Amcham urged the Dutch government to focus on the realisation of 'this important facility' at Schiphol 'to prevent the US government implementing their available sources in other countries than the Netherlands'. Without pre-clearance, Schiphol risks losing its leading position as a gateway to the US, the Telegraaf said.  More >

Ivanka Trump to attend business summit

Ivanka Trump is expected to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in The Hague on June 4 and 5, according to ‘reliable sources’ cited by public broadcaster NOS. It is the first time the conference, a gathering of international top business people, will have been held in Europe. Over a thousand companies will be represented in The Hague in what has been described by foreign affairs minister Sigrid Kaag ‘a big trade mission only the other way round’. It is not clear whether president Donald Trump will put in an appearance. At the last summit, in India, he also sent his daughter. The summit is a joint effort by the Dutch and the American foreign affairs departments. Topics will include innovative solutions for problems related to food, water, energy, health and connectivity. Dutch companies including Philips, APG, DSM, Ahold, Unilever and Rabobank will also be taking part.   More >

Coolcat is latest high street bankruptcy

Teenage fashion chain Coolcat with 80 stores in the Netherlands, has gone bust, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday. The 25 stores in Belgium, France and Luxembourg are not affected by the bankruptcy and the shops in the Netherlands will remain open for the time being, the paper said. Coolcat was launched 40 years ago by retail entrepreneur Roland Kahn, who also owns the MS Mode and America Today brands. The FD said Coolcat has been loss making since 2015 and had been struggling against competition from the likes of Primark and Zara. The company said the long, hot summer of 2018 and the mild winter had led to a sharp drop in sales and that it could no longer meet its financial obligations.  More >