Police liable in 2011 Alphen mall shooting: court

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Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton). Lady Justice (Picture: Twitter/@danvelton)

The police can partly be held liable for damages caused by a shopping center in Alphen aan den Rijn in 2011, the court in The Hague ruled on Tuesday. Personal injury- and death damages can be claimed from the police, according to the court, NU.nl and NOS report. 

On April 9th, 2011 Tristan van der Vlis (24) opened fire in the Ridderhof shopping center. He killed six people and injured 16 others before committing suicide. Five of the people who died were killed by bullets, the sixth had a heart attack during the mass shooting. According to victims and relatives, the police are to blame because they gave Van der Vlis a gun license despite the fact that he had psychological problems and was suicidal. 

A previous court ruling stated that the police made mistakes in issuing the gun license to Van der Vlis, but can not be held liable for the damages. "The norm that the police must be careful when making such a decision is not intended to protect against damages that the prosecutors have suffered", the court ruled back then.

The court in The Hague came to a different conclusion on Tuesday. "The norm that a license must be refused in case of fear of abuse is meant to protect citizens against the harmful consequences of such abuse", the court of appeal ruled. "The court therefore finds that the police are liable."

As the damage was not directly caused by the granting of the gun license, the court ruled that the police can only be held liable for personal injury- and death damages - not, for example, damages caused to shops or buildings. The amount of the compensation is yet to be determined. 

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