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Japan indicts man suspected of murdering former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

<i>Kyodo/Reuters/FILE</i><br/>Japan indicts Tetsuya Yamagami
Japan indicts Tetsuya Yamagami

By Junko Ogura, Emiko Jozuka, Aliza Kassim Khalidi and Heather Chen, CNN

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

Nara prosecutors’ office said in a statement it had indicted Tetsuya Yamagami on murder and firearms charges after Abe was shot dead on July 8 while giving a campaign speech on a street in the city.

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

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

Yamagami was detained 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 from excessive bleeding.

Abe, 67, the former Liberal Democratic Party leader and Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, held office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020, before resigning due to health reasons.

His assassination in broad daylight shocked the world and sent shock waves through Japan. World leaders offered their condolences while thousands of mourners gathered in the streets of Tokyo to pay tribute. 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 the expansion of a religious group he held a grudge against.

CNN has not been able to independently confirm what group Yamagami was referring to, however, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida referenced Abe’s connections to the Unification Church during a parliamentary session last September, saying there were “limits to understanding” the former prime minister’s ties to the group following his death.

In October, Kishida ordered an investigation into the church amid a growing scandal tying 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 Association 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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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Asia/Pacific

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