Alleged Utrecht tram shooter rejects Dutch law

A makeshift memorial is seen at the site of a tram shooting in Utrecht. (Reuters pic)

AMSTERDAM: An alleged shooter who killed four people on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht in March appeared at a pre-trial hearing on Monday and said he rejected Dutch law and did not recognise the court’s authority.

“Coward! Coward! You’re a pig,” the father of one of the victims yelled as Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, 37 was led from the courtroom after the brief session.

On March 18, Tanis is alleged to have opened fire indiscriminately, killing a 19-year-old woman, a 28 year-old-man, the 49-year-old father of two young children and a 74-year old man, who died several days after the shooting.

Tanis spoke briefly on Monday, telling the judges: “I am not a democrat. I don’t recognise you or your court,” ANP news agency quoted him as saying. He said he didn’t need a defence lawyer because “I already confessed.”

Tanis is believed to have acted alone and prosecutors have said they intend to charge him with four counts of murder, or manslaughter.

An investigation is looking into the possible involvement of others in the crimes.

Prosecutors on Monday told the court they had strong indications Tanis carried out the shooting with “terrorist intent”.

They cited a handwritten note recovered from the getaway car, in which they said Tanis wrote that he had committed the actions in support of Islam.

Prosecutors said Tanis is being admitted for psychiatric evaluation and is known as “a difficult person, a drug user, a repeat offender who is not open to receiving medical help.”

Tanis is set to appear in court again on July 15 as a suspect in a rape case, prosecutors said.

The next pre-trial hearing in the shooting case was set for September 23.