Japan prosecutors said on Friday that they have indicted the man suspected of assassinating former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot outside a train station in western Japan as he was giving a campaign speech last July. According to Nara’s prosecutors’ office, Tetsuya Yamagami was formally charged with murder in connection to the fatal shooting.
Japanese prosecutors indict suspect accused of killing former PM Shinzo Abe for murder and violation of gun control laws pic.twitter.com/xHj12ozX0X
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Yamagami, who allegedly shot Abe with a homemade gun, was detained right after the shooting. He underwent a mental evaluation for the last six months since his arrest to determine if he could be tried, per prosecutors. His indictment came after he was determined mentally fit to stand trial on Tuesday.
He also faces an additional charge for firearm violations and could also be hit with charges related to violating explosives control law and building damage.
Yamagami reportedly admitted to killing Abe, telling authorities that he targeted the former prime minister because of his apparent ties to the Unification Church. Per Daily Wire, he said he hated the church for bankrupting his mother, who made massive donations to the church. The prodigious donations his mother made to the church ruined his and his siblings’ lives, he claimed.
In a letter obtained by the New York Times, Yamagami referred to Abe as “nothing more than one of the Unification Church’s most powerful sympathizers.”
While the date for the trial has not been set, it is expected to be presided over by a panel of civil jurors and bench judges. If found guilty of the murder charge, he could be given the death penalty. Experts, however, told CBS News that he is likely to be handed a life sentence.
Abe, who was 67 at the time of his death, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, holding office for about nine years altogether. Doctors attributed his death to excessive bleeding as they said the bullet that killed him was “deep enough to reach his heart.”
Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump expressed sadness at the news of the assassination. For Trump, who called the murder “devastating,” the news would really sadden the people of Japan “who loved and admired him so much.”
Biden also called the murder a “tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.”