The leading arson suspect behind the Kyoto Animation arson attack on July 18, 2019, was formally charged on December 16 with murder, attempted murder, arson, breaking and entering, and violating the firearms and sword control law, by the Kyoto District Public Prosecutor’s Office. Last week it was confirmed that the suspect was mentally fit to be indicted after investigators with the office conducted a psychological appraisal alongside experts.
The 42-year-old suspect, Shinji Aoba, was being held in the Osaka Detention Center with a team of doctors monitoring his condition. The suspect was picked up by police on the day of the arson attack with 90% of his body suffering from 2nd-degree and 3rd-degree burns. The doctor in charge of treating the suspect said in an interview that he wants the suspect “in court” so he “will be able to face up to the crimes [he] has committed and start to make amends.” The doctor also noted that the suspect was in a life-threatening situation and was likely to die from the burns. The suspect is still bedridden, and unable to eat on his own, though he is able to talk.
In May 2020, the Kyoto Metropolitan Police formally arrested the suspect after he was deemed fit enough to withstand detention and was moved to the Osaka Detention center.
The suspect has been charged with the murder of 36 people–the largest mass-murders since the Showa era, bigger than the Tokyo subway sarin attack–as well as the attempted murder of 32 others. The prosecutor’s confirmed the final number of people injured in the attack was 32, one person lower than the police estimated. The Supreme Court has noted that due to the seriousness of the case, the trial may take some time. Though the judiciary, the prosecutor, the defendant’s attorney, and the judge are performing a “pretrial arrangement proceeding” to speed up the trial when it finally heads to the courts.
The Supreme Court outlines that “through this procedure, a trial plan is established after identifying the allegations, requesting examination of the evidence by both parties concerned, and rendering a ruling to examine the evidence or dismiss the request for examination of evidence, etc.
Response from Kyoto Animation
Kyoto Animation President Hideaki Hatta said to NHK that “there is no way for the lives lost to be returned to us. It is heartbreaking to think of the pain and disappointment of the affected employees and their loved ones. But we understand that we have no choice but to take the appropriate action and make a decision in accordance with the law.”
Hatta continued, “No matter how many days pass, our hearts are still heavy from what occurred. For the families of the victims, there are no days where they don’t feel the pain of their loss. All of us at the company believe that continuing to create is the only way to connect with tomorrow. We believe that our work is a message to all the fans and people who have supported us.”
The former site of Studio 1
Kyoto Animation has also confirmed that the anime studio has resumed hiring employees and that the studio is backed up to 170 full-time staff to work on upcoming projects. Though it has been noted that now demolished the former site of Kyoto Animation Studio 1 remains untouched and there are no plans in place at this time for what might happen with the site.
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs the YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza, and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.
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