Driver in Dutch royal attack couldn’t pay rent

1st May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The man who had recently lost his security guard job could no longer pay rent and was due Friday to transfer the keys to a new tenant.

THE HAGUE – The man who tried to ram his car into the Dutch royal family, killing five onlookers at a parade, had apparently lost his job and was about to lose his home, report various Dutch newspapers.

The killer driver, who has not been officially identified, died in hospital in the early hours from severe head trauma as relatives of the five victims that he mowed down tried to come to terms with their loss.

The tragedy, labelled ‘an act of despair’ by newspapers, also prompted questions about royal security and whether there would have to be a rethink about staging the annual Queen's Day procession.

Newspapers, displaying gruesome photographs of twisted limbs and bodies sent flying at a royal parade Thursday in the central city of Apeldoorn, said the man had recently lost his security guard job.

"Recently, he informed me that he had been dismissed and could no longer pay the rent," landlord Sem Bosman told the mass market De Telegraaf newspaper.

"He was due to have come today to transfer the keys to a new tenant."

The 38-year-old was described by his former landlord and neighbours as quiet, solitary, friendly, soft-spoken and a ‘dark horse’.

The tragedy happened when his car slammed into festival goers in full view of Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem Alexander and his wife Maxima among other members of royal family in an open top bus, which had been the target.

The car missed the bus and rammed into the foot of a monument, leaving injured people and battered bicycles in its wake.

Two men and two women died shortly after impact. A third man died in hospital later Thursday, followed overnight by the driver himself.

Nine people remained in hospital on Friday, including two adults who were critically ill, Apeldoorn's mayor Fred de Graaf told reporters. Two of those in hospital were children and both were in a stable condition, he added.

Investigators said the man had told police his action had been aimed against the royal family.

"The death of the suspect means the end of the criminal investigation against him," according to prosecution service spokesman Wim de Bruin.

Investigations so far had found no indication of terrorist links or a broader conspiracy.

Dutch commentators, meanwhile, speculated whether Thursday's events would have to signal a change in the annual celebration of Queen's Day -- the birthday of Beatrix's mother Juliana.

Hundreds of thousands of Dutch take to the streets on April 30 every year in orange wigs and elaborate hats to celebrate the event which is regarded as an opportunity for ordinary citizens to get close to the royal family.

"A national illusion died on April 30, 2009: the accessibility of the Orange family on Queen's Day," lamented the Volkskrant newspaper, while the Algemeen Dagblad said the attack put the spotlight on royal security.

"Queen's Day will never be the same again," it predicted.

The last serious attack on Dutch royalty had been the assassination of Prince William I of Orange, founder of the House of Orange, in 1584.

But the Netherlands' image as a safe refuge was shaken twice in recent years -- with the assassination in 2002 of right-wing anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn, and two years later of controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh, allegedly by an Islamic extremist.

"The Netherlands has always been proud of having a royal family without too much pomp", and a Queen that could easily move among ordinary citizens, said the Trouw newspaper.

"Through this act, Queen's Day will lose its spontaneity."

Official celebrations were cancelled in the aftermath of the tragedy and the national flag was flown at half mast at royal palaces and government buildings.

There was a long queue of people Friday wishing to make an entry in a register of condolences placed at the Apeldoorn city hall, and a constant flow of people laying flowers at the accident scene.

AFP / Expatica

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