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Dutch terror trial starting for deadly Utrecht tram shooting

UTRECHT – A terrorism trial starts Monday for a Dutch man of Turkish descent who allegedly opened fire on a tram in the central city of Utrecht last year, killing four people.

Prosecutors have charged Gokmen Tanis with four counts of murder with terrorist intent and three counts of attempted murder as well as making a terrorist threat against 17 people over his alleged role in the shooting spree on March 18, 2019.

He faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.

The attack on a public transport network shocked the Netherlands, which that has avoided the large-scale terror attacks that have hit nearby nations Belgium and France.

The Dutch terror threat level in Utrecht was briefly raised to the highest level and people were warned to stay indoors as police swarmed through the city hunting down the shooter. Tanis was arrested in Utrecht the same day as the shooting.

Prosecutors said last year that Tanis left a hand-written note in a getaway car that said in Dutch: “I’m doing this for my religion. You kill Muslims and you want to take our religion away from us, but you won’t succeed. Allah is great.”

Prosecutors say Tanis, who acted alone, confessed last year.

He was ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation ahead of his trial.

Prosecutors last year described Tanis as a repeat offender, a drug user and “difficult person,” but said their previous investigations had not uncovered evidence he was plotting a terror attack.

The trial is scheduled to run for four days this week.