The person responsible for a fire that killed 36 people in 2019 at an animation studio in Kyoto, central Japan, was sentenced to death this Wednesday, local media reported.
The court found Shinji Aoba guilty of the fire, which was one of the most deadly crimes in the archipelago in recent decades and which triggered a wave of outrage in Japan and abroad.
Prosecutors sought the death penalty last month for the 45-year-old on five charges, including murder, attempted murder and arson.
The fatal victims were mostly young employees at the Kyoto Animation studio. More than 30 people were injured.
“I didn’t think so many people would die and now I think I went too far,” said the defendant on the first day of the trial, in September.
“I have to pay for my crime with [esta pena]”, he stated in another hearing, in December, when he was asked about the desire of the victims’ families to see him sentenced to death.
According to several witnesses, Shinji Aoba entered the studio, poured gasoline and set it on fire while shouting “You are going to die”.
At least 33 dead and 36 injured in attack in Japan
Firefighters said extinguishing the flames and helping victims was “extremely difficult”.
The arsonist himself was seriously burned and required several surgeries, having appeared at the trial in a wheelchair.
According to the news agency France Presse (AFP), Shinji Aoba wanted to take revenge on KyoAni — short for Kyoto Animation — because he was convinced that the company had stolen an idea for a script from him. The allegation was rejected by the studio and described by prosecutors as delusion.
Attack on animation studio in Japan may have been revenge
Defense lawyers argued that the man did not have “the ability to distinguish between right and wrong” due to psychiatric disorders. However, for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the accused had “premeditated the act with strong murderous intent and was perfectly aware of the dangers involved” when using gasoline.
Like the United States, Japan is one of the few democratic countries to apply the death penalty, carried out by hanging.
Japanese public opinion continues to be overwhelmingly in favor of capital punishment, despite criticism from the international community.
The last execution in the country, where more than 100 convicts are on death row, dates from 2022.