Confession in Utrecht mass shooting; suspect remanded into custody

Gökmen T. suspected in the Utrecht shooting on Oktoberplein
Gökmen T., 37, a Turkish-born suspect in the shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht. 18 March 2019photo: Politie Utrecht

The 37-year-old man suspected of opening fire on a tram in Utrecht on Monday, killing three people, confessed to the attack, the Public Prosecutor's office (OM) said on Friday. Meanwhile the release was ordered in the case of the 40-year-old resident of the home where Gokmen T. was arrested. 

T. was remanded into custody for two weeks in a hearing earlier that day. "He also stated that he acted alone. In light of the investigation, no comment can be given regarding his statement," the OM said.

The prosecutor did state that the other man was no longer considered a suspect. Two other men, 27 and 23, were arrested on Monday after the shooting when a police dog picked up a scent from the getaway car and led authorities to the men.

They are also not suspected of wrongdoing, the OM said.

At this stage T. is being charged with three criminal offenses: multiple murder or manslaughter with terrorist intent, attempts thereto, and threat with terrorist intent, reports.

In two weeks' time the court was scheduled to again assess T.'s detention. The man is currently in restricted custody, which means that he is only allowed contact with his lawyer. It also means that the police can not yet share many details about the investigation. His arraignment happened behind closed doors.

Gokmen T. is accused of opening fire on a tram on 24 Oktoberplein on Monday morning. Three people were killed and five others were injured, three of whom seriously. According to the Public Prosecutor, T. acted alone with terrorist intent. The suspicion of terrorism is backed by the fact that no links have been found between T. and the victims, and by a letter found in the suspect's getaway car. The authorities haven't revealed the content of the letter, but according to PVV leader Geert Wilders, it contained statements about solidarity between Muslims

"Furthermore, it is being investigated whether the accused acted solely for the sake of a terrorist motive, or whether his actions were based on personal problems in combination with radicalized ideas", The Prosecutor said on Thursday.

Earlier, the 40-year-old man from Utrecht was under suspicion of a "supporting role outside of the shooting incident", authorities said Thursday.

On Friday one of the two men arrested earlier in the week  told newspaper AD that people still see him as an attacker, despite the fact that the police cleared him. "On social media I have been called a traitor, and on the street I am addressed as a terrorist", he said.