By Barrier Free Japan, Kyodo
May 31 2020
KYOTO – The Kyoto prefectural police department arrested on Wednesday 27 May the suspect of an arson attack last year that killed 36 people at a studio of Kyoto Animation Co., known by fans as KyoAni.
The suspect, 42, was arrested on charges of setting fire to the studio building in the western Japan city of Kyoto, murdering 36 and attempting to kill 34 others. He has admitted to the charges, according to informed sources.
The suspect suffered serious burns to his whole body. He still cannot eat or go to toilet by himself. It is difficult for him to sit up for a long time.
After skin-graft surgeries and other treatments, the suspect showed some level of recovery. He is no longer in a life-threatening condition, according to investigative sources.
In an unusual move, the police prepared a care bed with nursing staff before arresting and putting him into custody, so that they can question him while he is lying in bed.
The police believe the suspect’s condition has stabilized sufficiently for him to endure detention and they have prepared medical facilities at the detention house.
Asked about the timing of the arrest, Toshiyuki Kawase, head of the Kyoto prefectural police’s first investigation division, told a press conference, “His condition is improving and there is a risk of escape or destruction of evidence.”
But some legal experts cast doubt on the necessity of arresting the suspect who cannot move around by himself.
Osamu Watanabe, a criminal procedure law professor at Konan Law School in Hyogo Prefecture, said, “(The police) should have paid attention to human rights and questioned him on a voluntary basis in the presence of a doctor and lawyer, rather than improving the detention facility for his arrest.”
In response to the suspect’s arrest, Kyoto Animation said in a statement, “We have nothing to say to the suspect…Our fellow workers whose lives were lost will never come back and the wounds of our colleagues will never be healed.”
The company said it expects the suspect to face the “maximum criminal responsibility,” according to the statement issued though the studio’s legal representative.
The suspect was arrested at 7:18 a.m. on Wednesday 27 May. Investigators from the the prefectural police came to a Kyoto hospital, read the the arrest warrant to the suspect as he lay in bed. According to the the police, the suspect responded by saying “that is correct.”
Around 7:40 a.m. the suspect was taken on a stretcher through the hospital entrance, which was covered with blue sheets, to a welfare van provided by the the police. The van was situated between police cars arrived at Fushimi Police Station, at 8:06 a.m.
The suspect’s body was fastened to the stretcher by a belt; and the suspect was wearing a blue gown and a white mask when the the suspect left the van. The suspect’s fingers were deformed, their skin was red and white, evidence of serious burns. According to the police, the suspect was not put in handcuffs due to the burns.
The suspect was questioned on a stretcher at a police station. According to the police the suspect said, “I thought I could use gasoline to kill a lot of people.”
The suspect reportedly signed a confession, and a prosecutor from the Kyoto District Public Prosecutors Office has completed the process of starting prosecution.