March 20, 2020 / 3:09 PM / 16 days ago

Dutch tram attack killer sentenced to life in jail

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A man who shot three people dead and wounded five others on a Utrecht tram last year was sentenced to life in prison by a Dutch court on Friday for what judges ruled was a terrorist attack.

Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, 38, had shown no remorse and was fully responsible for his actions, despite having low intelligence and a personality disorder, the judges said.

The attack by Tanis on March 18, 2019, came just days after a lone gunman killed 50 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

“The suspect stepped into a tram in broad daylight and there sowed death and destruction,” Presiding Judge Ruud Velhuisen said reading the ruling out in court.

Tanis, a resident of the Netherlands since 1993, did not know his victims, who ranged in age from 19 to 74.

He had tried to justify his actions afterward by saying it was “us against you, us Muslims against you ‘democrats’”, the judge said in the ruling. Tanis had used the term ‘democrats’ to describe Dutch people or non-Muslims.

Tanis had yelled, cursed, spat at judges and taunted victims’ family members during his trial, but did not address questions put to him by judges or victims’ families in an intelligible way.

His lawyer had acknowledged Tanis was culpable, but had argued he should not be sentenced to life in prison, given his reduced mental capacity.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Alexander Smith

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