“Islamic” text on Utrecht tram shooter’s weapon reported as terrorism trial begins
Suspect Gökmen T. wrote references to Islam, Sharia and Allah on the firearm used to commit a mass shooting in Utrecht in March last year, "reliable sources" told RTL Nieuws. Soon after the shooting on 24 Oktoberplein on March 18th, the Public Prosecution Service (OM) revealed that text was written on the weapon, but never said what it stated.
According to RTL's sources, the following was written on the firearm and silencer, translated from Dutch: "Those who follow Sharia go to paradise. Who follows democracy goes to hell. You kill people who are Muslims. And Allah lets me kill you..."
The text corresponds to a note found in what is believed to be T.'s getaway car. That note read, translated from Dutch: "I do this for my faith. You kill Muslims and you want to take our faith away from us, but you will not succeed. Allah is great."
The OM had the handwriting on the note and the firearm analyzed to confirm that they were written by the same person, and that this person was T. This turned out to be the case, RTL's sources said.
The trial against T. starts on Monday. He is suspected of opening fire on a tram on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on March 18th last year. Four people were killed. The man is charged with multiple counts of murder or manslaughter with terrorist intent. There is a great deal of evidence against him. The shooting was recorded by surveillance cameras in the tram, there were many witnesses, and Gokmen T. confessed multiple times. He told the authorities that he committed the attack for his faith and out of anger about violence against Muslims and Islam being mocked. The mass shooting in Utrecht happened just days after attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Experts from the Pieter Baan Center who examined T. concluded that he has a personality disorder and an intellectual disability that make him less accountable, according to the broadcaster.
Shortly after the shooting last year, neighbors and people who knew T. told local media that they doubt the shooting had anything to do with his faith. They described T. as a "petty criminal", a "dealer", a "loser" with a drug problem, a "lost, confused dork", someone who lost his way early in life and quickly accumulated a lengthy criminal record.
The court set aside four days for the trial. The OM's sentence demand is expected on Thursday. The court obliged T. to attend the trial in the court in Utrecht. T. refused a lawyer, so the court appointed lawyer Andre Seebregts to represent him.
Seebregts told RTL that he cannot comment on the text on the weapon, because he hasn't received any instructions from T. about contacts with the media.