Shinji Aoba was found guilty Thursday of setting fire to an anime studio in Kyoto, Japan in 2019
A Japanese court has sentenced a man to death over an arson attack that killed 36 people.
The Kyoto District Court found Shinji Aoba guilty of murder and other crimes on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.
Aoba set Kyoto Animation’s No. 1 studio on fire in July 2019. Along with killing 36 people, the attack left more than 30 other people badly burned or injured, per the outlet. Many of the victims were believed to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to Reuters, Aoba set the anime studio on fire by dousing the entrance area of the building with petrol. He also suffered bad burns and was hospitalized for 10 months.
Judge Keisuke Masuda said Aoba, who shouted, "You die!" during the attack according to CBS News, was seeking revenge. According to local media outlet NHK national television, per CBS, Aoba believed Kyoto Animation, a producer of several hit TV series, had stolen novels he submitted as part of a company contest. He was not a current or former employee of the company, added NHK.
The outlet also reported that Aoba, who was arrested in May 2020, had plotted a separate attack on a train station north of Tokyo a month before the arson attack, per CBS.
Aoba’s defense lawyers had argued that he was mentally unfit to be held criminally responsible for the crimes, per AP, but the court ruled him mentally capable of facing punishment for the attack on Thursday.
The court said in the ruling that Aoba had plotted the attacks after studying past arson cases, meaning the crime was premeditated and he was mentally capable.
“The attack that instantly turned the studio into hell and took the precious lives of 36 people, caused them indescribable pain,” the judge said, according to NHK, per CBS.
About 70 people were working in the building at the time of the attack.
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“Canadians send our deepest condolences to the families of those killed in the arson attack in Kyoto that has taken so many innocent lives,” he wrote. “To the people of Japan – we’re mourning these tragic losses with you, and wishing a quick recovery to everyone who was injured.”
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