After killing 36 people, defendant still says he thinks that what Kyoto Animation did was wrong.

On December 7, the prosecution made its closing arguments in the trial of Shinji Aoba, the arsonist who attacked anime studio Kyoto Animation in July of 2019, killing 36 people. Throughout the trial, Aoba’s lawyer has maintained that the now 45-year-old was under intense emotional distress, making him unable to distinguish right from wrong and thus incapable of being held legally responsible for the result of his actions.

The prosecution disagrees, and has now formally requested the death penalty.

“Resenting Kyo Ani and as a form of revenge, [the defendant] carried out [an attack] with the largest number of [murder] victims in the history of Japanese criminal trials,” said the prosecution in its closing statements. “His actions were carried out with firm murderous intent, premeditation, and ample knowledge of the dangers of spreading and igniting the gasoline [that he used in the attack],” the prosecution continued, concluding “There are no circumstances present for which capital punishment should be avoided.”

During the previous day’s proceedings, Aoba made his first statement that could be considered a sign of remorse since the trial began. When asked how he would respond to statements from family members who lost loved ones in his attack, Aoba replied “All I can say is that I am deeply sorry.”

However, on the same day, Aoba was once again questioned about his feelings of resentment towards Kyoto Animation, which stem from his assertion that the studio plagiarized a scene for one of its anime series from a novel he had submitted to a writing contest held by the studio, despite the scene in question depicting an extremely common and normal part of everyday life in Japan in a manner of minimal narrative importance. When asked “Do you still feel that what Kyoto Animation did was wrong?”, Aoba replied “It would be easier if that feeling would go away, but it has not gone away, so I have things to think about.” On a previous day in the trial, while being questioned about his actions, he also burst out with “Are there not going to be any questions about what Kyo Ani did?”

Aoba likely didn’t help himself earn any clemency either when asked on December 6 about whether the death toll from his attack had been greater than he’d initially expected due to factors such as a spiral staircase within the studio making it difficult for victims to quickly evacuate the burning building as it filled with suffocating smoke. “I cannot deny that there were factors of luck and unluckiness,” though his wording leaves it vague as to what precisely he equates to “luck” in this context. Prior to the start of his trial, when Aoba first learned during police questioning that the total number of deaths from the attack had been 36, he reacted with “Oh, is that so?”, and stated that “I thought that if I sprayed gasoline around the building while setting the fire, I could kill more people, so that’s why I did that.”

The trial’s verdict and sentencing are scheduled to be announced on January 25.

Source: NHK, Yahoo! News Japan/YTV via Jin, Sankei Shimbun
Top image: Wikipedia/L26
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.