The Latest: Dutch PM leaves flowers for Utrecht victims
UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on the tram attack in Utrecht, the Netherlands (all times local):
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has left a bouquet of flowers at a makeshift memorial in Utrecht to the victims of Monday's deadly tram shooting.
Rutte and Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus briefly visited a growing collection of flowers laid around the base of a tree next to the busy traffic intersection where a gunman opened fire Monday on tram passengers, killing three and seriously wounding three more.
A small drawing of Miffy, the white cartoon rabbit famous from children's books, clutching a red heart has been attached to the tree. Utrecht was home to Dick Bruna, the illustrator who created the hugely popular "Miffy" books
Rutte did not speak to media, but briefly spoke to police officers at the scene before being driven away.
Dutch politician Geert Wilders has demanded that Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus resign after it became apparent that the main suspect in the Utrecht tram shooting had been released recently from prison after pledging to cooperate with authorities.
Wilders, the anti-Islam head of the Party for Freedom, said after a ceremonial session to mourn the three people killed on Monday that Grapperhaus was responsible for the suspect being able to roam the streets.
"You are politically responsible for this," Wilders said in the Dutch parliament in The Hague. "You have to resign, get out of here."
The suspect, Gokmen Tanis, was accused of rape in 2017 and was jailed in that case from August to September 2017 and then again from Jan. 4 this year because he refused to work with authorities investigating the case. He was released on March 1 after pledging to cooperate.
He was also convicted in March of shoplifting and burglary in 2018. He was handed a prison sentence of four months for the burglary and a week for the shop theft, but has not served any time yet as the cases can still be appealed.
The Dutch parliament has held a moment of silence to remember the victims of the attacks in Utrecht on Monday and three days earlier in New Zealand's Christchurch.
In a ceremonial session, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: "Because of what happened in Utrecht we feel an even stronger bond with the people of Christchurch."
"It was not a bad dream but the hard reality with which we woke up," Rutte said of the Utrecht shooting, in which a gunman killed three and wounded seven others during a morning tram ride. "This really hit our confidence and our sense of security."
Dutch prosecutors said Tuesday they were taking seriously the possibility that the attack was an act of terror.
Dutch judicial authorities have published details about the criminal record of the main suspect in the deadly Utrecht tram shooting.
According to details published on the official website of Dutch courts, www.rechtspraak.nl, Gokmen Tanis was accused of a rape in 2017. He was jailed in that case from August to September 2017 and then again from Jan. 4 this year because he refused to work with authorities investigating the case. He was released on March 1 after pledging to cooperate.
His trial in the rape case is scheduled for July 15.
He also was convicted in March of shoplifting and burglary in 2018. He was handed a prison sentence of four months for the burglary and a week for the shop theft, but has not served any time yet as the cases can still be appealed.
In 2014, he was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted in the same case of illegal weapon possession and attempted theft.
Dutch prosecutors say they are taking seriously the possibility that a man suspected of killing three people and seriously wounding three more in a shooting on a tram in Utrecht had a terrorist motive.
In a statement Tuesday, prosecutors say the nature of the attack and a note found in a getaway car give them reasons to consider terrorism as a motive. They say other possible motives also are being investigated.
The prosecutors also say that investigations so far do not indicate that the main suspect, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent who was arrested hours after Monday's attack, knew any of the victims.
Prosecutors say a weapon was recovered when he was arrested.
The statement says that three people were seriously wounded in the shooting and four more suffered light injuries.
Dutch police say they have arrested a third person on suspicion of involvement in the tram shooting in the city of Utrecht that left three people dead and five injured.
Public prosecution office spokesman Ties Kortmann said Tuesday that three people are now in custody — the alleged shooter, 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis and two others who were also arrested on suspicion of involvement in the shooting Monday morning.
Kortmann says Tanis is being held on suspicion of manslaughter with a possible terrorist motive, but adds that investigations are continuing into what drove him to allegedly open fire in a tram.
Authorities say they have not ruled out other possible motives and Dutch media citing his neighbors in Utrecht have speculated that the shooting may have been linked to a relationship.