Terror suspect confesses to deadly Netherlands attack: prosecutors


The Hague (AFP)

A Turkish-born suspect has confessed to terrorist charges over a shooting on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht which killed three people, prosecutors said Friday.

Thousands of Dutch mourners including Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte took to Utrecht's streets later Friday evening to pay their last respects to the victims of the rampage, which also left seven injured.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, said he acted alone in Monday's attack which triggered an eight-hour manhunt until he was captured.

"The 37-year-old suspect confessed this morning to the examining magistrate the criminal offences against him. He also stated that he acted alone," the Dutch prosecution service said in a statement.

"Because of the investigation nothing else can be said."

Prosecutors said on Thursday that Tanis would be charged with "multiple murders with terrorist aims, as well as attempted murder and a terrorist threat."

He appeared before a magistrate behind closed doors and was expected to be remanded in custody for a further two weeks.

Police had meanwhile released a 40-year-old man who was arrested on Tuesday because Tanis had been found at his home, the prosecution service said.

"An in-depth investigation has been carried out into whether the man was involved in the shooting incident or helped in any way. No evidence was found and the man is therefore no longer a suspect," it said.

Two other men were arrested and released earlier in the week after police sniffer dogs followed a trail from Tanis's getaway car to their house.

- 'No place for hate' -

More than 10,000 mourners attended the commemoration march to remember the victims.

Marchers walked in silence to the 24 October Square in the city where the three people -- a 19-year-old woman from Vianen, south of Utrecht, and two men aged 28 and 49 from Utrecht itself -- lost their lives.

Many were carrying flowers and long queues formed as mourners stood in line to lay them at the scene where the tram came to a halt, the Dutch public newscaster NOS reported.

The marchers were carrying banners saying: "Utrecht will never be bowed" and "Je suis Utrecht/New Zealand" in a reference to the recent Christchurch shootings and the 2015 attacks in France.

The city's Muslim community was also well-represented with representatives from a local mosque also laying flowers, carrying a banner saying "Muslims are at peace with humanity."

Earlier, Utrecht's mayor told marchers: "Today the city is silent once again."

"We are showing that Utrecht is no place for violence and hate," Jan van Zanen told the marchers, after which a moment of silence followed.