The year 2019 was a busy one for the Netherlands, with elections and strikes, multiple high profile murders and shootings, and a summer full of heat records, severe storms and poisonous caterpillars. Here follows a review of the top ten stories of this year.
Gokmen T., the suspected gunman in a mass shooting on a tram in Utrecht in March, did not appear in court for a proforma hearing in his case on Monday, despite a court order that he attend. A lot of violence would have been needed to get him to the courtroom, the court said. "It is not up to the suspect to dictate whether he appears or not, but under these circumstances the court refrains from forcing him to be present," the court president said, according to broadcaster NOS.
After a mass shooting in a tram in Utrecht on March 18th, the police responded quickly and effectively and acted according to prepared plans and protocols, according to an evaluation by an internal committee on the handling of the shooting. While the committee largely praised the police's actions, it concluded that there is room for improvement - especially when it comes to information exchange during crisis communication.
A report by the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) has revised the country's threat level assessment down to level 3 from level 4. The threat of a terrorist attack in the Netherlands is assessed on a five-point scale, with threat level 5 being the most severe and imminent.
The investigation into a mass shooting on a tram in Utrecht and suspect Gokmen T. is almost complete. The police and judiciary have almost a complete picture of what happened before, during and after the attack in March this year, the Public Prosecutor said during a proforma hearing in this case on Monday, AD reports.
T. was not present at the hearing. He is also refusing legal representation, was revealed in the hearing.
Rene Verschuur, who lost his 19-year-old daughter Roos in a mass shooting on a tram on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht in March, is furious that suspect Gokmen T. is refusing to attend the next pro-forma hearing in the case against him, scheduled for Monday. In an open letter published by newspaper AD, Verschuur repeatedly called T. a coward for refusing to appear in court and account for his cowardly deeds.
Gokmen T. again confessed to being responsible for a mass shooting on a tram in Utrecht and killing four people during the first pro-forma hearing in the case against him on Monday. He also denounced the Dutch legal system. "I don't recognize your laws, I don't recognize your judges", he said in the court in Utrecht on Monday morning, according to AD reporter Yelle Tieleman, tweeting live from the courtroom.
Gokmen T., the man suspected of killing four people and hurting multiple others in a mass shooting in Utrecht in March, must attend the next pro-forma hearing in the case against him, the court in Midden-Nederland ordered.
T. previously stated in writing that he did not want to be present, but the court "considers it important to be able to speak to the suspect during this hearing about the progress of his criminal case", the court said, NU.nl reports.
The next hearing in this case is scheduled for Monday, July 1st.
A Forensic Investigation van was broken into during a police reconstruction of a mass shooting on a tram in Utrecht in March, the Midden-Nederland police confirmed. The thieves got away with a police jacket and police bag, AD reports.
The reconstruction of the mass shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in March happened on Sunday. The area around the square was cordoned off during the reconstruction. How the thieves managed to sneak past all the present authorities, is not clear.
Gokmen T., the suspected gunman in a mass shooting in Utrecht on March 18th, assaulted a prison employee a few weeks before the attack on 24 Oktoberplein, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security said in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the Volkskrant reports.
The suspect in last month's mass shooting on a tram in Utrecht wanted to cause fear and confusion on a wide scale, the Public Prosecutor (OM) said on Wednesday. It forms the basis of their accusation that the suspect, Gökmen T., had a purpose of terrorism when he carried out the shooting, for which he is charged with three specific crimes, a spokesperson for the OM told NL Times.
A 74-year-old man has died from injuries sustained at a mass shooting in Utrecht earlier this month. The unnamed victim, from De Meern in Utrecht province, died on Thursday, according to the Public Prosecutor's office (OM).
So far the police received 850 tips regarding a mass shooting in Utrecht last week Monday, a police spokesperson said on Opsporing Verzocht on Tuesday. Due to the high number of tips, the police have not yet been able to make personal contact with every caller, but they will, the spokesperson said.
A 21-year-old woman from Nieuwegein who was injured in a mass shooting in Utrecht last week, was discharged from the hospital on Monday. She will continue her recovery at home, her lawyer said on Tuesday, NU.nl reports.
"She thanks everyone for the support she's receiving, in whatever form", the lawyer said. He called on the press to leave the young woman alone and respect her privacy.
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.
A 27-year-old man that was held for a time in connection with a fatal shooting on a tram in Utrecht on Monday, says that people still see him as an attacker - even though the police released him because he wasn't involved in the attack. "On social media I have been called a traitor, and on the street I am addressed as a terrorist", he said to newspaper AD.
The police found no indications that suspected gunman Gokmen T. received help from other people in the shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on Monday. He acted alone with terrorist intent, the Public Prosecutor said in a statement on Thursday.
So far the investigation into a shooting on 24 Oktoberlaan in Utrecht on Monday revealed no links between suspected gunman 37-year-old Gokmen T. and the victims, the Public Prosecutor said in a statement on Tuesday. Three people were killed and multiple injured, three of whom seriously, in the shooting on a tram on Monday morning.
Gokmen T., the 37-year-old man suspected of killing three people and injuring five in a shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on Monday, has a lengthy criminal record and is considered "scum" among his neighbors. But they don't believe him a terrorist. Relationship problems were behind the shooting, not religion, they told the Volkskrant. Angelique, the victim in a rape case against T., believes the same.
More information is becoming available about the victims of a mass shooting on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht on Monday morning. Rinke Terpstra, a coach at football association DESTO in Leisdche Rijn, and Roos Verschuur, a 19-year-old employee of the Kwalitaria snackbar in Vianen, were killed in the shooting. So far no details are available about the third victim killed. Five people were injured.
Flags across The Netherlands will be lowered, and will fly at half-staff on Tuesday, said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at a press conference on Monday evening. The move is in response to a mass shooting that left three people dead, and at least five others injured in Utrecht.
One person was taken into custody during the police investigation into a mass shooting in Utrecht. The suspect, 37-year-old Gökmen T., was identified by police earlier as the primary suspect and was still at large when the press conference began. That situation changed suddenly, with new information revealed right at the end of the event.