Japan indicts man suspected of murdering former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Japan indicts man suspected of murdering former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

Tokyo CNN –

Japanese prosecutors said Friday they have charged a man suspected of killing former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year in a fatal shooting.

The Nara prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it had charged Tetsuya Yamagami with murder and firearms charges after Abe was shot dead on July 8 while giving a campaign speech on a city street.

The Nara District Court confirmed to CNN that it has received the indictment.

Yamagami has been undergoing a psychiatric evaluation in Nara since his arrest last year to determine whether he is mentally fit to stand trial, public broadcaster NHK reported. The assessment of his detention period expired on Tuesday, NHK added.

Yamagami was arrested at the scene and admitted to shooting Abe, according to Nara Nishi police.

Doctors said the bullet that killed the former prime minister was “deep enough to reach his heart” and that he died of excessive bleeding.

Abe, 67, the former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, served from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 before stepping down for health reasons.

His assassination in broad daylight shocked the world and sent shockwaves through Japan. World leaders offered their condolences as thousands lined the streets of Tokyo to pay their respects. An elaborate and controversial state funeral was held for Abe in September.

NHK reported at the time that the suspect had targeted the former prime minister because he believed Abe’s grandfather – another former leader of the country – had helped expand a religious group he resented.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm which group Yamagami was referring to, however, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida referred to Abe’s ties to the Unification Church during a parliamentary session last September, saying there were “limitations in understanding “the former prime minister’s ties to the group after his death.

In October, Kishida ordered an investigation into the church amid a growing scandal linking his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the controversial religious group that has seen a number of ministers resign.

The church, originally known as the Holy Spirit Society for the Unification of World Christianity, was founded in South Korea in 1954. It had a global reach by the 1980s and remains prominent in parts of Asia today.

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