A man in Japan has been given the death penalty after he was found guilty of murder and other charges for a deadly arson attack on a Kyoto anime studio, which resulted in the death of 36 people.
The Kyoto District Court declared Shinji Aoba mentally fit to be punished and handed down his sentence after a break during Thursday’s hearing.
On July 18, 2019, Aoba barged into Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio and set it ablaze. It’s believed that most victims died from carbon monoxide poisoning, and over 30 others were seriously hurt or injured.
Officials stated that Aoba, who yelled “You die!” during his attack, was not an employee, past or present, of Kyoto Animation Company, a famous TV series producer.
Judge Keisuke Masuda noted that Aoba, who had aspirations to become a novelist but didn’t succeed, believed Kyoto Animation had stolen his novel ideas, which he sent for a company contest. This was reported by NHK national TV.
NHK also mentioned that Aoba, unemployed and in financial trouble after frequently changing jobs, had planned another attack at a train station near Tokyo just a month before the studio arson.
The court pointed out that Aoba had researched previous arson cases, indicating he had carefully planned the attacks and was mentally fit at the time of the crime.
“The attack that instantly turned the studio into hell and took the precious lives of 36 people, caused them indescribable pain,” said the judge, as reported by NHK.
Aoba, who’s 45, suffered serious burns and spent 10 months in the hospital before being arrested in May 2020. He came to court in a wheelchair.
His defense lawyers claimed that he wasn’t mentally stable enough to face criminal charges.
Around 70 people were at work in the Kyoto studio, located in Japan’s historic city, when the attack happened. One person who made it out said he saw a black cloud below, felt intense heat, and had to jump out of a window on the third floor, struggling to breathe.
A specialist, talking to CBS News’ partner TBS TV, mentioned that the studio’s small size, about 7,500 square feet, and having just one way out made it extra risky if someone blocked the entrance. The attacker had really thought this through and even managed to get gasoline, which isn’t easy to buy in Japan because it’s not sold in containers.
This company, KyoAni, started in 1981 and is famous for an anime series about high school girls. They also teach people who want to learn animation.
Japanese news says Aoba was known for causing trouble, moving jobs and homes a lot, and having arguments with neighbors.
This fire was the deadliest in Japan since a 2001 fire in Tokyo’s busy Kabukicho area killed 44 people. It’s also the worst case of arson in the country’s recent history.