Death sentence sought for suspect in 2019 Kyoto animation arson attack
Japanese prosecutors on Thursday requested death penalty for the male suspect indicted on charges including murder for the deadly 2019 arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio.
At the trial held at the Kyoto District Court, 45-year-old Shinji Aoba from Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo, was charged with murder and arson over dousing the No. 1 studio of the animation powerhouse, also known as KyoAni, with gasoline and starting a fire in July 2019.
The attack on the studio in the city of Kyoto left 36 people dead and 32 others injured.
According to multiple local media outlets, prosecutors on Thursday described the attack as an act of revenge stemming from a misdirected grudge, noting that it stands out in Japan's criminal history in terms of the number of victims.
The defendant planned the attack with a firm intention to kill, and was fully aware of the dangers of setting fire to gasoline, according to the prosecutors.
The prosecution acknowledged that Aoba harbored delusions, wrongly believing his novel that entered a contest held by KyoAni had been plagiarized by the firm, but said his delusions had a limited impact on his behavior and did not constitute a reason to avoid the maximum sentence, national news agency Kyodo reported on Thursday.
With the focus of the trial being whether Aoba was legally competent, the defendant argued that he suffered from a serious delusional disorder at the time of the attack, and lacked the mental capability to distinguish between right and wrong, thus they expected to plead not guilty.
Citing the horror and despair for the victims and their families, the prosecutors said the defendant can be held fully accountable for what he did, and demanded that he be sentenced to death.
The ruling is expected to be handed down on January 25, 2024.