Japan: Man sentenced to death for Kyoto anime fire which killed 36

Connie Queline

Japan: Man sentenced to death for Kyoto anime fire which killed 36

Reuters

A Japanese man has been sentenced to death for an arson attack at a Kyoto animation studio in 2019 which killed 36 people and injured dozens more.

The incident, one of Japan’s deadliest in recent decades, killed mostly young artists and shocked the anime world.

Shinji Aoba, 45, pleaded guilty to the attack but his lawyers had sought a lighter sentence, arguing grounds of “mental incompetence”.

Judges rejected this however, ruling Aobo knew what he was doing.

“I have determined that the defendant was not mentally insane or weak at the time of the crime,” Chief Judge Masuda said during the ruling on Thursday at Kyoto District Court.

“The death of 36 people is extremely serious and tragic. The fear and pain of the deceased victims indescribable,” he said according to NHK reports.

One of the most shocking cases in recent decades in Japan, the incident sparked national mourning. The country’s public and media have followed the case closely.

Many of the animation staff were killed after being trapped on the upper floors of the studio as the fire spread.

Prosecutors had demanded the death penalty saying Aoba, an author, was motivated to attack the studio after believing his work had been stolen.

He had wrongly believed that Kyoto Animation plagiarised a novel he entered into a contest run by the firm.

In July 2019, he burst into the studio during a work day, splashing petrol on the ground floor and setting it alight while repeatedly shouting “Drop dead”.

Aoba himself suffered burns to over 90% of his body in the fire, and was only arrested after he recovered from operations.

Families of the victims were seen in the court room on Thursday, with some seen wiping tears as the judge read out the details of the Aobo’s crime, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Related Topics

  • Anime
  • Japan
  • Kyoto Animation fire

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