KyoAni Arson Trial: Aoba’s Lawyers Question Fairness Of A Death Penalty As Sentencing Nears

Aoba Trial

In the 17th hearing of the Kyoto Animation arson trial, which was held on Nov 27, 2023, at the Kyoto District Court with the Judge Keisuke Masuda presiding it, the third phase of the trial, which is sentencing, began.

In the hearing, both the defense and the prosecution made their third opening statements respectively.

Aoba Trial

The prosecution, in their statement, pointed out that the defendant Shinji Aoba’s crime was an unprecedented case of mass arson and murder. They argued that it was committed as revenge due to a misguided grudge.

The prosecution asked the court to consider the fact that this arson incident resulted in the worst death toll since the Heisei era and called for attention to the fear, suffering, and mental anguish inflicted on the victims and their bereaved families.

They also highlighted the brutality of the crime, which was committed using gasoline.

Aoba’s lawyers on their end asked the court to consider if giving the defendant the death penalty was really the right choice. They pointed out that if killing a person is considered to be wrong, then could the death penalty really be justified.

The defense asked whether this was really “an eye for an eye” case.

The previous phases of the trials had covered the overall case and Aoba’s culpability. He had pleaded guilty of committing the crime in the first trial itself which took place on Sep 5, 2023, stating that he felt Kyoto Animation had stolen the novel he had submitted for a competition to the studio.

In the 7th trial, Aoba revealed more details about his motives, saying that at the time of carrying out the arson attack he felt all the victims were equally guilty and that he wanted to kill as many people as possible for stealing his novel.

Kyoto Animation’s president Hideaki Hatta on the other hand rubbished the plagiarism claims put forth by Aoba and the claims that the studio stole one of his novels.

Despite admitting to the crime, Aoba’s defense team entered a plea of not guilty on the grounds of the accused being mentally incompetent or of diminished mental capacity when he committed the crime. The defense team is aiming to get a reduced punishment.

The verdict of the trial will come out of Jan 25, 2024.

A devastating fire had broken out at KyoAni’s Studio 1 building on July 18, 2019. At the time, there were 70 people inside the building. The fire claimed the lives of 36 people and injured 33 more. Aside from the victims inside the building, the smoke also injured a man in his forties who was on his way to work.

Kyoto Animation Studio One

Kyoto Animation’s productions were initially paused after the attack, and the onset of the pandemic further delayed its projects.

As a fresh comeback from the two-year aftershock of the tragedy, the studio resumed its production activities with the release of the second season of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.

Two memorials, as a symbol to honor the arson attack victims, are set to be unveiled on July 18, 2024, in order to mark the 5th anniversary of the incident.

Source: Sankei News

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