A man suspected of killing 36 people in an arson attack in July last year has finally been arrested, after spending 10 months in hospital recovering from his own injuries.
Police in Japan had issued an arrest warrant for Shinji Aoba at the time of the fire but had been unable to question him after he suffered serious, self-inflicted burns.
Aoba is alleged to have set fire to Kyoto Animation studios because he believed he had been ripped off by the company. Most of those who died were young artists. More than 70 people were in the building at the time.
Kyoto Animation is well known in Japan and abroad for its series and movies, including “Violet Evergarden”, which has been on Netflix.
Investigators said that on 18 July 2019, Aoba entered the studios and shouted die as he doused the building in fuel before setting it alight. After the attack he told officers that he was angry because the studio had plagiarised his novel.
The 41-year-old suffered third degree burns that destroyed the innermost layer of his skin. A decision was made to treat the victims first as Aoba only had a 1% chance of survival.
There was also a lack of human skin available as organ donation is rare in Japan so the victims were given priority to receive donor skin first.
Aoba was not expected to survive as so much of his body was burned, but in early September doctors announced his burns were no longer life-threatening and he would undergo skin graft surgery in Osaka.
In a first for Japan for such extensive burns, surgeons used mostly artificial skin and only small patches of his own skin in the reconstructive surgery.
Police had to wait two months before Aoba was well enough to be questioned.
Although officials have yet to confirm it, Public broadcaster NHK said that police arrested Aoba at a Kyoto hospital on Wednesday, where he confessed to the crimes, and that he was transferred to police headquarters for further questioning.
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