Even years before medical student Fouad L. shot and killed his neighbour, neighbour’s daughter and his teacher in September 2023, there have been concerns from various authorities about his behaviour. In 2018, there was already a report of animal cruelty: L. then shoots at carp with a crossbow. And in 2021, the public prosecutor’s office was looking at what could be done to prevent him from getting his basic medical degree. Legally there were no options, the prosecution concluded, because L. was not yet a doctor. In November 2022, the prosecution started an investigation on whether they could inform the medical faculty after all.

Under the radar

Because there were long periods between reports, L. seemed willing to accept help, because professionals were not constantly working on the case and because different agencies didn’t always consult with each other about the case, the student’s behaviour remained under the radar. “He has shielded his soul,” writes researcher Rieke Samson-Geerlings in the Reflection Report case of Fouad L., on the actions of the agencies involved.

Erasmus MC is still working on its own reflective report. Samson did talk to the Department of Medicine and gave ‘a number of questions that will be included in their research’. Interviews were conducted with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the police, the municipality of Rotterdam, housing association Woonbron, Reclassering Nederland, Fivoor Reclassering, Antes GGZ, Zorg- en Veiligheidshuis Rotterdam Rijnmond and the Inspectorate for Healthcare and Youth.

No grounds for compulsory treatment, but concerns were expressed

In January 2023, a mental health specialist raised concerns about the impending graduation of Fouad L. The student was causing a disturbance to his next-door neighbours, had been convicted of animal cruelty and had an alcohol addiction. Following those concerns, consultations were held between various institutions, including the prosecution. On 13 March 2023, the Public Prosecution Office decided to inform the Erasmus MC about two pending criminal cases against Fouad L. By then, the faculty already had a file on him.

The medical student attended an appointment at Erasmus MC on 3 April, but couldn’t satisfy the examination board’s concerns. His degree, for which he had all the necessary credits, was placed on hold. The examination committee requested more information from the Healthcare and Youth Inspectorate; the inspectorate said only the prosecutor could send that information. The latter eventually sent a letter. As a condition for his diploma, Fouad L. had to undergo an examination by a psychiatrist. L. kept postponing his appointment and it would never take place. Erasmus MC kept updating the police on this.

Problems with L. were mounting in more places. His neighbour and later victim said she was afraid of him, there were more reports of animal cruelty, and his landlord Woonbron also continued to build a file on him. He was building up payment arrears with this landlord. So much so that he would be evicted from his house in early October. It didn’t come to that in the end. On 28 September, he set fire to his house, after which he killed his neighbour, neighbour’s girl and Erasmus MC lecturer.

Court case

Immediately after the attack, L. was arrested. Since then, he has been detained. Thursday 4 July is the third pro forma hearing in the case against him. An update on the observation in the Pieter Baan Centre is expected then. At the previous hearing, the centre requested to extend the observation by four weeks. This is very exceptional. The substantive hearing is expected in October at the earliest.

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