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Man goes on trial for terrorism in Dutch tram shooting that killed 4

Man goes on trial for terrorism in Dutch tram shooting that killed 4
A handout photo made available by the Utrecht Police last year shows Gokmen Tanis, whose terrorism trial is going on this week in connection to the tram shooting on March 18, 2019. File Photo courtesy of Utrecht Police/EPA-EFE

March 2 (UPI) -- A terrorism trial began Monday for a man who confessed to a shooting aboard a tram in the Netherlands last year that killed four people.

Gokmen Tanis, 38, of Turkey, faces four counts of murder with terrorist objective, along with 17 counts of making terrorist threats.

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The deadly shooting occurred March 18, 2019, aboard a tram in the city of Utrecht, Netherlands, about 20 miles southeast of Amsterdam. A few days later Tanis confessed to the shooting, saying he acted alone, but the defense is likely to dispute the alleged terrorist motive.

Tanis underwent a psychiatric evaluation, which concluded he had low mental capacity. The court assigned a lawyer, Andre Seebregts, after he was not present at a hearing in September and refused legal representation. Tanis was obliged to attend the trial in Utrecht, RTL Nieuws reported.

The trial will begin with victim testimony and digital reconstruction of events surrounding the shooting before the prosecution makes its sentencing request Thursday. Then, the defense team will give its response to charges.

The verdict is expected to be delivered March 20.

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Tanis told authorities he committed the attack, which occurred a few days after a shooting at two New Zealand mosques killed 51 people, out of anger about violence against Muslims and Islam being mocked.

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