Nearly a year after the tragic deaths of dozens of anime creators, the man responsible will finally begin facing justice.

On the morning of July 18, a man walked into the lobby of anime production company Kyoto Animation’s Fushimi Ward studio and started a fire while spraying gasoline around the interior to accelerate the blaze. The attack led to the deaths of 36 Kyoto Animation employees, making it the largest mass murder in modern Japanese history.

The arsonist, a then 41-year-old man named Shinji Aoba who had traveled from halfway across the country to attack the studio, was apprehended before the fire was even put out, and witnesses report that he told police, “I spread gasoline around the studio. I lit it with a lighter.” And yet more than 10 months after the incident, Aoba has not been arrested.

The reason why is that Aoba also suffered severe burns in the attack, and the Japanese legal system requires that he be healthy enough to survive incarceration while awaiting trial. So for almost a year, Aoba has been receiving medical care while remaining hospitalized, regaining his ability to speak and developing a crush on one of his caregiver nurses.

However, on May 27 Kyoto Prefectural Police officers are expected to finally place Aoba formally under arrest.

This could have actually occurred earlier, but complications arose with two potential incarceration sites. While his medical conditions are not currently life-threatening, investigators say that the threat of infection is still one that must be avoided for Aoba. Though the arson took place in Kyoto and Aoba was taken into custody by Kyoto prefectural officers, Kyoto’s detention center was judged to be too old and in too poor of a condition to guarantee Aoba’s health. The next candidate was the Osaka Detention Center, in the prefecture that borders Kyoto to the south, but before preparations could be made for Aoba’s transfer, members of the facility’s staff were found to be infected with coronavirus, preventing the center from housing Aoba.

However, the Osaka Detention Center has since resolved its coronavirus issues, clearing the path for officers to finally arrest Aoba. Meanwhile, the remains of the arson-gutted Kyoto Animation studio have also been entirely cleared away, and hopefully these developments will be of some small comfort to those longing for progression towards justice and a sense of closure.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/L26
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