Things have been looking good for KyoAni recently. They have received donations from people around the world, and many of their employees who survived are now back to work. However, as the legal battle against the arsonist himself, 41-year old Shinji Aoba, is about to begin, the courts might not find him guilty of the heinous crime simply because of his mental illness.
Police described Aoba as unstable, and he believed that the studio “stole his work”. He came to the studio with a lot of flammable liquid before lighting it up. He also shouted “Die!” as he lit the fire before running away. Eyewitnesses also stated that he also shouted that Kyoto Animation “ripped him off”. KyoAni has admitted that Aoba has submitted works to their competitions, but didn’t submit anything worthy of getting a KyoAni adaptation. They also received threats previously, and reported them to police.
Meanwhile, the Kyoto Police have also found that the suspect himself has mental illness. This has prompted several leading legal and psychiatric experts to weigh in on the issue. Well known lawyer, Masaru Wakasa, said that “if Aoba is found to have been acting under a diminished mental capacity while carrying out the attack, there’s a chance he could be found not guilty, in accordance of Article 39 of the Japanese penal code.“Another expert, prominent psychiatrist Tamami Katada said that “Aoba exhibited signs of what could be schizophrenia or castrophrenia, also known as ‘thought withdrawal,’ in which a person believes that ideas are being forcefully taken from the their mind by outside forces”. Katada then added that “such a delusion could have fed into a persecution complex and fueled a desire for violent revenge, culminating in the attack.”
However, there is hope that justice will be met. Konan University law professor Osamu Watanabe has said that “Aoba’s actions are consistent with someone who was well aware of the lethal effects they would have, and went through with them anyway.”. The professor then added that the attack had a premeditated nature, which means he was planning this from the start, and was very methodical about it, something that most insane people can never do. He says “It would be strange to say he was even slightly incapable of understanding his actions, and I believe there is ample justification to pursue the death penalty.”
However, while Aoba may get the death penalty, the experts agreed that if he is found guilty, there is a bigger chance that he might get life imprisonment instead of an execution. This is mainly because of Aoba’s mental illness.
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