May 27, 2020 / 3:26 AM / 2 months ago

Man arrested over deadly 2019 arson at Japan's Kyoto Animation

FILE PHOTO : An aerial view shows firefighters battling fires at the site where a man started a fire after spraying a liquid at a three-story studio of Kyoto Animation Co. in Kyoto, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo, July 18, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese man suspected of killing 36 people and injuring dozens in an arson attack at an animation studio last July was arrested on Wednesday after spending 10 months in hospital for treatment.

Police 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 burns in the blaze at Kyoto Animation.

Aoba, 42, was arrested at a Kyoto hospital and transferred to police headquarters for further questioning, police said in a statement. Aoba’s injuries had left him unable to walk on his own, a police official said.

The fire - one of Japan’s deadliest in decades - killed mostly young artists at the studio, shocking animation fans globally and prompting tributes from leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook.

Police said in a statement that Aoba allegedly went to the studio, poured gasoline inside the building and set it ablaze, killing 22 women and 14 men inside. He was also suspected of the attempted murder of another 34 people.

Media reports at the time said Aoba told police he had taken the action because the studio had plagiarized his novel.

In a statement, Kyoto Animation said it expected the suspect to be prosecuted “to the maximum extent” under the law.

“We have no further words for the suspect... Our fallen colleagues will never return, and our wounds will never heal,” it said.

Kyoto Animation is well known in Japan and abroad for its series and movies, including “Violet Evergarden”, which has been on Netflix.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Additional reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Richard Pullin

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