Kyoto Animation arsonist begins physical therapy, regains ability to speak


No longer bedridden, doctors plan to help him learn to walk again.

This week, a 20-something employee of Kyoto Animation, who was in the company’s Fushimi studio at the time of the arson attack on July 18, succumbed to septic shock, an infection-related complication related to the damage her internal organs suffered in the fire. She is the 36th person to have lost her life as a result of the blaze.

Meanwhile, Shinji Aoba, the arsonist who was seen in security pushing a handcart with canisters of gasoline and was taken into custody by police officers immediately following the attack while shouting “They stole my novel, so I set the fire,” remains hospitalized somewhere in Osaka. The 41-year-old Aoba has been receiving treatment for severe burns he sustained during the arson attack, and was bedridden and unable to communicate for several weeks.

However, on August 8 a source connected to the case informed Japan’s Kyodo news service that Aoba is no longer bedridden, and is able to sit up in a wheelchair. He’s also regained the ability to speak, and can engage in simple conversations with hospital staff, although he is yet to make any mention of the arson attack. His physical therapy is now under way, and the next step of the rehabilitation program doctors have laid out will be focused on helping Aoba to walk under his own power again.

Considering the immense loss of human life caused by the arson attack, no doubt many people feel absolutely no joy about Aoba continuing along the path to recovery while three dozen of his victims will never take another breath. However, Aoba’s improving physical condition also means he’s more likely to be called to answer for his crimes by the justice system. The arrest warrant for Aoba has been sitting idle for months now, as officers are unable to execute it until doctors deem him physically fit to withstand incarceration while he awaits trial. As such, he remains, in the eyes of the legal system, technically only a “suspect” in the arson attack, as he’s yet to be formally arrested or enter a plea, and so the endpoint of his physical therapy likely won’t be a return to a normal life, but the beginning of his legal prosecution and almost certain conviction and sentencing.

Source: Kyodo via Jin
Top image: Wikipedia/L26
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