Death penalty for arsonist in Japan's KyoAni studio fire
Aoba Shinji, who set fire to a studio in Japan, has been convicted and sentenced to death for an arson attack that killed 36 people.
In 2019, 36 people died in the arson of Kyoto Animation (KyoAni) studio in Japan. Aoba Shinji, the accused in the case, received a death sentence.
The trial of Aoba, concerning the arson of the three-story KyoAni studio in the Fushimi district of the city about five years ago, took place at the Kyoto District Court.
During the trial, prosecutors reiterated their demand for the death penalty, while defense lawyers argued that Aoba suffered from "mental incompetence" at the time, seeking either acquittal or a lighter sentence.
The District Court, in its decision, ruled that Aoba was mentally competent when he confessed to setting fire to the KyoAni premises during the first hearing in September 2023.
The court subsequently sentenced Aoba to death.
In his first court appearance in September 2023, the detained Aoba said, "I felt I had no choice but to do what I did. I did not anticipate that many people could die."
In the sixth hearing of his trial, Aoba referred to the 2001 arson of the financial institution Takefuji in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, as a precedent, and admitted to orchestrating the 2019 KyoAni attack.
Regarding his motive for targeting KyoAni, a popular animation producer, Aoba said he believed attacking a place with many employees would result in numerous deaths.
Aoba also expressed sympathy for former death row inmate Kato Tomohiro, who committed a stabbing incident in Tokyo's Akihabara district in June 2008, killing seven people.
In the July 2019 attack on KyoAni, 36 employees died, and 33 were injured. Aoba also suffered life-threatening burns.
Arrested in May 2020, Aoba reportedly shouted, "I started the fire because my novel was plagiarized," on the day of the incident after submitting his work to a KyoAni contest.
Following these allegations, the animation studio stated that the suspect's works did not pass preliminary rounds and were not accepted.
Known domestically and internationally as "KyoAni," the studio's works such as "K-On!" and "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya" are recognized in international markets.