AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A U.S. citizen has confessed to axing a 22-year-old Dutch student to death, his lawyer said has said, adding that the American had expressed a desire to punish the Netherlands for its government's support of the war in Iraq.
The suspect, Carlos Hartmann, 41, of Tecumseh, Michigan, confessed to the Sept. 8 killing on a train platform in the southern city of Roosendaal, lawyer Peter Gremmen said.
Hartmann appeared before a judge Tuesday and was ordered held for another two weeks for investigation.
"He hates soldiers, and says that the army kills people, so it would be legitimate if he were also to kill someone ... from the American military — or from its NATO allies," Gremmen said in a telephone interview.
When he failed to find a soldier at the Roosendaal train station, "he got such a crazy, disturbed idea that he killed a civilian," Gremmen said.
Hartmann did not attempt to escape the scene and was arrested shortly after the killing.
Dutch prosecutors confirmed that the suspect had confessed but did not identify him, in keeping with Dutch practice.
Under the Dutch legal system, Hartmann was not required to enter a plea Tuesday.
Dutch television program "4 In Het Land" reached both of Hartmann's parents by telephone.
"He was against the war, and he thought the U.S. was aggressive, going into other countries and making war," his mother, Delores, told the program. "You can be anti-war, you can be leftist, but not this — I never imagined something like this," she said, weeping.
Gerald Hartmann described his son as intelligent but said "he was an angry person too, I think; that's the problem."
Gremmen said Hartmann has lived in the Netherlands since 2002, supporting himself with English editing work for a Japanese company, which he could do by computer, and that he had no fixed address.
He said Hartmann had consented to undergo psychological testing, and was now "terribly sorry for his deed."
The victim, identified as Thijs Geers, was waiting for a train and had no connection with the suspect or the military. Online condolence registers in the Netherlands were flooded with thousands of messages of sympathy for him and his family.
BN/De Stem quoted a witness who asked to remain anonymous as describing Hartmann as striking Geers in the back of the head with the ax.
"It's a sad story," Gremmen, the lawyer, said. "But I'm glad he's admitted what he's done and that he's sorry for it."