Utrecht mass shooting trial: Victims picked by random rhyme, Suspect spat at attorney

24 Oktoberplein shooting in Utrecht
The scene of a shooting on the 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht. 18 March 2019photo: Politie

Gokmen T., the man on trial for killing four people in a mass shooting in a tram in Utrecht last year, was at his ease during the shooting, according to witnesses. At one point it seemed like he was using Dutch nursery rhyme "iene miene mutte" to choose between two victims, according to a video reconstruction of the attack shown on the first day of the trial against T. on Monday, NU.nl reports.

During court proceedings T. also spat on his own court-appointed attorney, and laughed at surviving relatives startled when he screamed out towards the back of the room, newspaper AD says. T. also laughed while the mother and sister of one victim spoke openly about their grief. "Did you really think that by doing this you could solve the world's problems," his sister said to T., who is accused of multiple counts of murder or manslaughter with terrorist intent for the mass shooting on 24 Oktoberplein on March 18h, 2019. He confessed to the shooting multiple times, following his arrest on the same day of the shooting. 

The reconstruction used avatars with names or anonymous monikers to show who was on the tram and how they acted. It showed T. walking down the tram's aisle multiple times, shooting at passengers. A few times his gun refused to fire, which irritated him, according to witnesses. One of those on the tram expressed guilt over not trying to tackle T. when his gun jammed, saying he felt responsible for the death of a woman murdered soon after the suspect was able to begin shooting again.

Despite T.'s irritation, he seemed to be at his ease - taking his time to select victims. "He could have taken many more victims," a surviving tram passenger said. 

People fled from the tram once shots started flying. One man smashed a window in the tram door, which allowed three people to crawl to safety. The fourth person was shot and killed. "He was a hero," one of the three who escaped said. "If he had gone third, I would have been hit."

In over two minutes, the suspect shot and killed three people inside the tram. The fourth victim, was shot in a car outside the tram. According to the reconstruction, it looked that T. was using nursery rhyme "iene miene mutte" - the Dutch version of "eeny, meeny, miny, moe" - to choose which of the car's occupants to shoot. 

Following the reconstruction, T. spat at his attorney, Andre Seebregts, when Seebregts asked the court chair to speak slower as T.'s intelligence level meant it might be hard for him to understand a report into his psyche. T. was escorted out, according to an AD court reporter, and followed the proceedings for a short time by video connection.

During that time, the court read reports from experts at the Pieter Baan Center who examined T. and concluded that he has an anti-social personality disorder and a intellectual disability, which makes him less accountable. They said the risk of recidivism was high because he believes those in the Netherlands are attacking his Muslim faith. Despite his efforts to be a good Muslim, he went back to his prior habits of drugs and alcohol. An unstable youth marked by his transient life bouncing around the homes of different family members has resulted in his inability to handle criticism ans his lack of empathy, the AD reporter said citing the court proceedings.

The Public Prosecutor will announce the sentence a guilty verdict should command on Thursday as part of the fourth day of the trial.

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