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Kyoto Animation fire suspect's arrest still months away: sources

A person is seen praying for the victims of the Kyoto Animation Co. arson attack, outside of the company's 1st Studio, in Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, on Aug. 27, 2019. (Mainichi/Naohiro Yamada)

KYOTO -- The suspect in the July arson attack on a Kyoto Animation Co. studio here is no longer in a critical condition and his health appears to be improving, an individual connected to the investigation said on Sept. 6.

Shinji Aoba, 41, is receiving care at an Osaka Prefecture hospital for burns he sustained all over his body in the gasoline-fueled fire he is suspected of starting on July 18. He continues to receive multiple skin grafts and other treatment for his injuries.

Aoba was placed in custody by Kyoto Prefectural Police after they found him collapsed with burns near the scene of the fire at Kyoto Animation's 1st Studio in Kyoto's Fushimi Ward, in western Japan. They have obtained a warrant for his arrest on suspicion of murder and other charges.

According to the person familiar with the case, although Aoba has progressed to the point that he can at times express himself with nonverbal methods of communication when spoken to, he is yet to recover to the point of conversation. He remains in an intensive care unit.

It is still expected to be some months before Aoba's condition will improve enough for him to be arrested or placed in detention.

Prefectural police have begun explaining the suspect's condition to the bereaved families of victims and other related parties, taking into consideration the fact that some time has passed since the arson attack.

(Japanese original by Hiroshi Odanaka, Kyoto Bureau)

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