Shinji Aoba, who is suspected of the Kyoto Animation studio arson attack, looks up as he is transported on a stretcher to a police station on Wednesday.—AFP
Shinji Aoba, who is suspected of the Kyoto Animation studio arson attack, looks up as he is transported on a stretcher to a police station on Wednesday.—AFP

TOKYO: Japanese police on Wednesday formally arrested a man on suspicion of an arson attack on an animation studio in the city of Kyoto last year that killed 36 people, a police spokesman said.

“We arrested Shinji Aoba, 42, on suspicion of the murder of 36 people by setting fire” to an animation studio, a police spokesman said.

The arrest came 10 months after the attack on the Kyoto Animation studio, which also injured dozens of people.

Aoba was detained by police shortly after the blaze. He was found with serious burns and taken to hospital. He was reportedly unconscious for weeks.

He is reported to have said “drop dead” before setting alight flammable liquid he poured around the building.

A motive for his alleged attack remains unclear, though he reportedly confessed to the arson. Some reports have said Aoba accused Kyoto Animation of plagiarising his work.

Aoba allegedly “broke into the studio, scattered gasoline on the ground floor, set fire to it and killed 36 people” — 14 men and 22 women, the police spokesman said.

He is also accused of attempted murder over the injuries of 34 people, and possessing knives on the street without legitimate reasons, in violation of Japan’s strict laws on weapons. Police had held off formally arresting Aoba while he remained in serious condition.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2020

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