Japan: the man accused of the fatal fire at an animation studio has admitted the facts

Steph Deschamps / 6 September 2023

The man accused of the arson attack on an animation studio that killed 36 people in Japan in 2019 admitted to the crime on Tuesday on the first day of his trial, but his lawyers pleaded not guilty, citing his psychiatric problems.
Shinji Aoba, 45, arrested after the fire in Kyoto (western Japan) which also injured 32 people, is on trial for five charges: murder, attempted murder, arson, trespassing and violation of the arms control law.
According to the Jiji news agency, Mr. Aoba told the Kyoto Magistrate's Court that "I did it ».
I didn't think so many people would die, and now I think I've gone too far," he added, according to the same source.
Mr. Aoba, who was appearing in a wheelchair, was himself seriously injured in the fire, and had to be hospitalized, spending several weeks in a coma. He regained the use of his voice only after surgery.
He was charged in December 2020 after being deemed "mentally fit" to stand trial.
However, his lawyers pleaded not guilty on his behalf on Tuesday, citing his psychiatric problems, according to local media.
His motive remains unclear. Mr. Aoba had no known connection with the Kyoto Animation studio (nicknamed "KyoAni") but blamed it for stealing a script idea, according to media reports.
According to several witnesses, he burst into the studio building, poured petrol over it and set it alight, shouting "You're going to die ».
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