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Home News Reports Nantes cathedral fire: Rwandan refugee seeking asylum in France confesses to arson

Nantes cathedral fire: Rwandan refugee seeking asylum in France confesses to arson

The 39-year-old accused, an asylum seeker from Rwanda who has been staying in France for several years, used to volunteer as a warden at the 15th-century Gothic cathedral. His lawyer informed about his confession on Sunday.

An asylum seeker from Rwanda who has been living in France for several years was arrested by the police on Saturday for setting blaze the famous Nantes cathedral. The 39-year-old accused volunteered as a warden at the 15th-century Gothic cathedral in France. His lawyer informed about his confession on Sunday.

The officials have refused to make his name public. He was taken into the custody by the police on Saturday after he confessed for the crime. He was released after his previous arrest during the investigation. His lawyer, Quentin Chabert, said, “With these confessions, there’s a kind of relief: it’s someone scared, who is somehow overwhelmed.” It was important for him to show his sincerity with the cooperation, he added. Chabert declined to go into the details behind his client’s actions.

Chabert claimed that his client regrets his actions and feels remorse. An arson inquiry was opened on 18th July by the prosecutors. He was taken in custody for questioning the very next day, but he was released without charge. At that time, the cathedral’s rector said he trust him like he trusts all the helpers.

Pierre Sennes, the Nantes prosecutor, said he had been charged with “destruction and damage by fire. He may face up to 150,000 euros ($175,000) in fines and ten years in prison.” Sennes added that he admitted during his first appearance for questioning before the investigating judge that he set three fires in the cathedral: at the main organ, the smaller organ, and the electrical panel.

On 18 July, a sudden fire had damaged the iconic cathedral that is one of the most iconic monuments in France. The construction of the cathedral was started in 1434 and had taken 457 years to finish, in 1891.

Famed grand organ, stained glass, precious painting destroyed

On 18th July, the fire broke down from inside of the Gothic structure of the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The famous grand organ along with stained-glass windows and a 19th-century painting was destroyed.

Before and after images of the Nantes cathedral’s famed grand organ, image via Richard Gowers on Twitter

The authorities had said that there were no signs of a break-in and the fire was started in three different places within the building. The chief architect for France’s historical monuments, Pascal Prunet, said it would take at least three years to restore the building. Firefighters had to work for several hours to contain the fire. The church was the last hit in 1972. It took 12 years for the experts to restore the building at that time. Laurent Ferlay, regional fire chief, said the damage caused by the fire is much lesser compared to 1972 blaze.

The cathedral had survived bombing in the World War 2.

Around 15 months ago a fire broke down at the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. It raised many questions regarding the security and fire safety protocols in place at the historic churches of France.

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