On the first day of his trial, the defendant in a 2019 arson assault at a Japanese animation company admitted culpability to the death of 36 people.
To give the defendant time to heal from the severe burns he incurred in the attack, the trial for the nation’s bloodiest crime in decades had been postponed for a very long period.
Shinji Aoba, 45, is accused of setting fire to Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio on July 18, 2019, and has been charged with many charges of murder, attempted murder, and arson. 36 individuals were killed in the fire, while more than 30 more suffered severe burns or other injuries.
According to Japanese media, Aoba showed up in a wheelchair and a surgical mask before the Kyoto District Court. According to prosecutors, he committed the act in retaliation for Kyoto Animation allegedly stealing one of his manuscripts that he had entered in the company’s literary competition.
According to Aoba’s account, at the moment of the incident, all he could think about was the attack, but he never imagined that so many people would perish. According to the sources, he stated that he now believes he overstepped the mark. Aoba was severely burned over 90% of his body during the attack, including his face, torso, and limbs, and came dangerously close to dying.
He was treated for burns at a hospital for 10 months while unconscious, undergoing many skin transplant procedures that ultimately saved his life, according to the authorities.
After a 10-month hospital stay, he was last seen in public on a stretcher at the time of his arrest in May 2020. Before filing official accusations, prosecutors had to wait another six months for the findings of a psychological examination. In contrast to Aoba’s defense attorneys, who said that he was mentally incompetent and shouldn’t be charged with a crime, they asserted that he was competent to stand trial.
The incident took place when about 70 people were working inside the studio in southern Kyoto, Japan’s historic capital. An animator who was among the survivors claimed to have seen a black mushroom cloud rising from the ground floor and then intense heat. Then, panting for breath, he sprang out of a window of the three-story structure.
According to experts, many of the victims’ deaths were likely caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
The firm, commonly known as KyoAni, was established in 1981 and produced a hugely popular anime series about high school girls while also providing training for aspiring animators.
The tragedy stunned Japan and sparked a global outpouring of sorrow from anime enthusiasts.
There were 35 public seats available for the first hearing, and 500 people queued up outside the court on Tuesday to compete for them. The judgment, which is anticipated in January, will be reached after 30 more trial sessions this year.
According to Japanese media, Aoba is viewed as a troublemaker who frequently switches between contract employment and lodgings. He resided in several apartment complexes near Tokyo, according to his neighbors, and frequently got into arguments with other tenants. In 2012, he was sentenced to jail for robbing a convenience shop.
The catastrophe was the deadliest to hit Japan since a fire in Tokyo’s crowded Kabukicho entertainment area claimed 44 lives in 2001. It was the most notorious incidence of arson in the nation’s recent history.