UPDATE 14:15: The Police has just released the suspect (who still hasn’t been named) from custody, although he’s still suspected of violating traffic laws. The police has also declared that there is no footage of the incident because:
“During the incident, the camera’s at the Station Square were in pre-set mode. The part where the accident happened was not within view of the camera’s that can be monitored from the Central Surveillance Room. This is why the police doesn’t have footage of the actual ramming.”
Original executive summary:
On Saturday, June 10th around 21:00 at the square in front of Amsterdam Central Station, a car rammed eight people including three Israeli’s, injuring two heavily. The suspect was apprehended at the scene and is still in police custody, but police has thus far refused to reveal his name or background, because “The police is presuming the incident to be an accident,” which would somehow render that information irrelevant. All the police published was that it concerns a 45-year-old man from Amsterdam, who was known to the police for a minor violation many years ago.
The initial police report stated that the man had become “unwell” due to low blood sugar levels and that it was, by all means, an accident without any harmful intent. The next day, however, witnesses disputed the police statement, with many of them suggesting the ramming appeared to have been on purpose.
Now the City’s police spokesman has stated that there is no surveillance footage of the ramming “Because the part where the ramming occurred is not within the view of the camera’s“.
An inquiry by The Old Continent, however, deems this statement to be highly unlikely, since the car’s trajectory is surrounded by no less than 15 camera’s (zoom in on Amsterdam Central Station for a security camera overview). And as can be seen in the picture above, there’s a 360° camera right on top of the crash site.
Other pictures, like the one below, indicate that every camera position has camera’s aimed in multiple directions.
Please read our full report below
Amsterdam, the Netherlands on Saturday 10 June around 9 PM. According to police reports, a car was standing on the square in front of Central Station where no cars are allowed. When police approached the car to talk to the driver, the man drove off in response.
Subsequently, the car rammed eight people including three Israeli’s, injuring two people heavily, before hitting a low wall and coming to a stand still. The driver has been apprehended by the police.
Police say he became unwell, which would indicate the incident was not by design. Nevertheless, two heavily injured victims are still in hospital suffering broken bones.
This, more or less, was the first version of events as widely reported on. Since then, there have been a few developments. The first update on Sunday was that the perpetrator was a 45-year-old man from Amsterdam. He is said to have driven off slowly at first, and then to have accelerated after about 30 meters.
He was said to be on medication, but it was unclear if this had any bearing on his actions. Also, three of the victims were Israeli. More curious, was that the Dutch State Television (NOS) reported that the accident was caused by ‘low blood sugar level’. This fed speculation that the perpetrator might be a Muslim suffering from low blood sugar due to Ramadan fasting, but the police insisted that the low blood sugar level was caused by the medication. After a search of the perpetrator’s house on Sunday, a spokesperson for the police was quoted as saying:
“From everything we learn that there is no conceivable way this is a matter of intent, but instead that this is someone becoming unwell. During a search of his house, nothing was found.“
More importantly for challenging the, by now, established narrative that this was an accident, was a publication by local media company AT5. In it, several witnesses were given the opportunity to tell their stories, which at points were seriously at odds with official police statements. One eyewitness, who was changing trams, says:
“I saw the car standing on the tram rails and remember thinking: ‘well, if there’s going to be an attack, this is it.’ The driver was addressed by two policemen. I watched for a while and then continued walking. I crossed about a hundred meters when the car took off like a rocket. In my estimation, the man intentionally ran from the police. But you don’t hear that [in the newscoverage].“
Another, walking towards Central Station with a friend tells how:
“I was on the Westside of Central Station and just exited the bicycle tunnel in the direction of tram 5, meanwhile talking to a friend. Suddenly he screamed my name. ‘Run, run!’, he said. I looked to my right side and saw a black Peugeot coming towards me at high speed.“
The two men jump aside and see how the car is forced to stop because there are trams in its way. “Two policemen go to the man to ask for his driver’s license. One of them signals his colleagues to join them. The other one gives the man his license back and seems to indicate that he can drive on.” The eyewitness indicated, he was five to ten meters away from the car when he observed the irritated driver more or less snatching the license from the officer’s hand.
“Then he started the car again and, phone in hand, drove into the crowd with maximum acceleration. We could literally see people flying through the air.“
In response to these articles, the police responded by saying that no policeman saw the car travelling onto the square with high speed. Instead, they say the driver was talked to and the vehicle was checked. Seeing no reason to further detain him, he was requested to drive on slowly towards the Prins Hendrikkade, which he did. “Then officers suddenly heard the car revving. A strange situation, but it can happen.”
Police also say that the driver was in the police system, for something which happened years ago, but that it was a minor thing, “no reason for alarm. Certainly not.”
According to police spokesperson Rob van der Veen, the perpetrator doesn’t remember how he got to the centre of Amsterdam, that there was no alcohol found in his blood and that he’s been taken to a hospital to get a readout from his insulin pump. In specific response to eyewitness responses, Van der Veen had this reply:
“Witnesses can only say:’I see a car driving, that accelerates and I see that he drives into people.’ They can never say that this is done on purpose. And nothing anywhere in the investigation gives any indication that there is anything else going on than someone getting unwell.“
Striking, nonetheless, is that the collision hasn’t been caught on camera. None of the camera’s on or around the Stationsplein or the Prins Hendrikkade show anything of the crash. Van der Veen:
“You can’t film every square meter. And this piece, where the collision has taken place, was just outside of reach of the camera’s.“
Meanwhile, two of the victims are still in hospital with fractures, but are not in a life threatening situation. The police is unwilling to say anything about the origins of the 45-year-old man from Amsterdam, or about the origin of the victims, because it treats the case as an accident.