News Japan indicts man suspected of murdering ex-PM Abe
Japanese prosecutors said on Friday they had indicted a man suspected of fatally shooting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last year.
The Nara prosecutor’s office said in a statement that it had charged Yamagami with murder and firearms after Abe was shot dead while delivering a campaign speech on a street in the city on July 8.
The Nara District Court confirmed to CNN that it had received the indictment.
Yamagami has been undergoing psychiatric evaluations in Nara since his arrest last year to determine his mental fitness to stand trial, public broadcaster NHK reported. His detention assessment expired on Tuesday, NHK added.
Yamagami was detained at the scene and admitted to shooting Abe, according to the Nara Nishi police.
Doctors said the bullet that killed the former prime minister was “deep enough to reach his heart” and he died from blood loss.
Abe, 67, the former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party and Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, served from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020 before resigning for health reasons.
His assassination in broad daylight shocked the world as well as Japan. World leaders expressed their condolences, while thousands of mourners gathered on the streets of Tokyo to pay their respects. In September, Abe was given an elaborate and controversial state funeral.
NHK reported at the time that the suspects were targeting the former prime minister because he believed Abe’s grandfather – another former leader of the country – had helped expand a religious group he held a grudge against.
CNN could not independently confirm which group Yamagami was referring to, however, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida mentioned Abe’s ties to the Unification Church during a parliamentary meeting last September, saying the former prime minister’s ties to the Unification Church ” limited understanding” of the group after his death.
In October, Kishida ordered an investigation into the church amid mounting scandals linking his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the controversial religious group, which has seen several priests resign.
Originally known as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, the church was established in Korea in 1954. By the 1980s it had global reach and is still relevant today in parts of Asia.