Prosecutors in Kyoto Animation arson case seek death penalty for culprit
On Thursday, December 7, 2023, the Japanese news website The Mainichi reported that prosecutors in the Kyoto Animation arson case are seeking the death penalty. Accused Shinji Aoba's actions claimed the lives of 36 individuals and injured another 32 present at the building and in the area at the time of the attack.
While prosecutors are pushing for the death penalty, the defense in the Kyoto Animation arson case is pushing for an acquittal or reduced sentence for their client. The defense argues that Aoba was suffering from delusions at the time of the attack. The ongoing trial’s focus is to determine whether or not Aoba can be deemed mentally competent enough to take responsibility for the attack.
The ongoing trial for the Kyoto Animation arson case began on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, following pre-trial proceedings, which began on Monday, May 8, 2023. The court is scheduled to announce its verdict on Thursday, January 25, 2024, but this seems to be a tentative date that could be pushed back.
Kyoto Animation arson suspect’s defense argues Aoba lacked mental competence to take responsibility
As mentioned above, the Kyoto Animation arson case’s trial essentially discusses whether Aoba can be deemed mentally competent enough to take responsibility. However, prosecutors argue that even though Aoba may have been deluded at the time of the attack, he can (and should) still be held fully responsible for his actions.
Prosecutors predicate this argument because Aoba wrongly believed Kyoto Animation had plagiarized a novel he submitted in a contest run by the company. It seems that the prosecution argues that this fact makes it a premeditated act, which makes his mental status at the time of the attack irrelevant.
The Kyoto Animation arson attack was made on Thursday, July 18, 2019, when a devastating fire broke out at the company’s Studio 1 building. Seventy people were inside at the time, with a man in his 40s on his way to work in the area also suffering minor injuries from smoke inhalation.
Aoba was apprehended by the Kyoto Prefectural Police shortly after that. Aoba allegedly used 40 liters of gasoline in two canisters to start the fire, transporting the containers to the Studio 1 building for the attack. Japanese prosecutors formally indicted Aoba in December 2020.
Demolition work on the Studio 1 building concluded in April 2020, with the studio recruiting talent once again in July 2020. A documentary featuring Dr. Takahiro Ueda, the doctor responsible for caring for Aoba, aired on Japanese television on Friday, September 1, 2023, just four days before Aoba’s trial began.