Police not liable for 2011 mass mall shooting

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No image availableNL Times

The police are not responsible for the Tristan van der Vlis massacre in a shopping center in Alphen aan den Rijn in 2011, a court in The Hague ruled in a case brought by victims' relatives. The judge did, however, find that the police made mistakes.

Victims' relatives maintain that the police should never have given Van der Vlis a license for a firearm, reports NOS. The group started their proceedings in 2012, hoping to later file claims for damage.

According to the judge, the plaintiffs are right that the police should never have issued Van der Vlis a gun license. The police had not taken on board a 2008 refusal of a firearm license in their assessment for Van der Vlis's new license. The judge found the plaintiffs thereby partially correct, but also found that the police could not be held liable for Van der Vlis's actions.

According to NOS, the victims' relatives are disappointed with the ruling. Their representative, Orlando Kadir, called it "a cowardly verdict" and immediately announced that they would appeal. Relatives believe the police are complicit in the shooting because Van der Vlis had a gun license and therefore legally owned a weapon all the while police had it on record that he had psychological problems.

The police knew about the psychological problems because they assisted in Van der Vlis's involuntary commitment in 2006. Why this information did not lead to a rejection of the license application two years later remains unknown, says NOS. It is also unclear why annual inspections in 2009 and 2010 never caught the inconsistency.

On April 9, 2011, Van der Vlis fired a semi-automatic weapon in the Ridderhof shopping center in the South Holland town. He killed six people and injured 17. He then committed suicide. It was the first shooting of this type in the Netherlands.