The man accused of setting an anime studio ablaze in Kyoto, Japan, in 2019 has pleaded guilty to the crime this week.
Background: Shinji Aoba, 45, is accused of setting Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio on fire on July 18, 2019. He allegedly broke into the building, spread gasoline throughout the ground floor and used a lighter to start the inferno.
As a result of the flames, 36 people were killed and 32 others were injured. Aoba, who nearly died from his own burns, was arrested a year later after he had recovered enough to comply with the investigation.
What he’s saying: Aoba is facing five charges, which include murder, attempted murder and arson. On Tuesday, he confessed to his actions in court.
“I am positive that I did [what is written in the indictment],” he said. “At the time, I thought I had no other choice, but I did not expect so many people would die. I now think that I went overboard.”
What his lawyers are saying: While Aoba pleaded guilty to his charges, his lawyers pleaded otherwise on his behalf. They argued that he was suffering from delusions — such as fighting a “dark figure” — and that if convicted, his sentence should be reduced due to his diminished capacity.
What prosecutors are saying: Prosecutors said Aoba had acted in “revenge driven by a misdirected grudge.”
In 2017, a novel he had written reportedly failed to win a contest sponsored by Kyoto Animation. The studio suggested that following this, Aoba harbored the belief that it stole his ideas.
What’s next: Trial proceedings are underway. A ruling is expected on Jan. 25, 2024.