Wednesday 10 August 2022

Utrecht tram shooter has diminished responsibility, court told

Statue of justice.

Photo: Depositphotos.com

The man who shot four people dead on a tram in Utrecht has been assigned a lawyer after a court ruled he was mentally unfit to act in his own best interest.

Gökmen Tanis was not present at the court hearing in Utrecht on Monday, despite being ordered to attend. The judges heard that considerable force would have been needed to bring him to the courtroom.

Tanis, 37, is accused of four counts of murder or manslaughter with terrorist intent. He opened fire on a packed commuter tram on the morning of March 18 this year.

The chair of the judging panel said: ‘It is not for a suspect to dictate whether he appears or not, but under the circumstances the court will decline to force him to be present.’

The court will decide at a later date if Tanis should be required to attend the trial hearings, which are scheduled to begin in March next year.

Some victims’ families were enraged by the court’s decision not to enforce his attendance on Monday. ‘He used violence against my daughter too!’ said one father. ‘What kind of country is this?’

Pieter Baan centre

Researchers at the Pieter Baan Centre, which carries out psychological assessments of suspects in court cases, said Tanis had low mental capacity, a personality disorder with narcissistic traits and diminished responsibility.

His court-appointed lawyer, André Seebregts, said: ‘He has made it clear that he is keeping up well with the proceedings and the consequences. He has also said he expects to get a life sentence.’

Tanis said at a previous hearing in July that he would refuse a lawyer who was assigned by the court because ‘I’m not a democrat and I don’t recognise your courts.’

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