Nantes cathedral fire: volunteer admits to arson

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - French authorities have detained and charged a repentant church volunteer after he told investigators that he was responsible for the arson attack

French police officers look at the blaze. AP Photo

General view of fire at the cathedral. Ludovic Stang via Reuters

A view of debris from the fire inside the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral on July 18, 2020. Reuters

French Police officers stand ready as firefighters work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, western France. AFP

Firefighters work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral. AFP

French firefighters battle a blaze at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral. Reuters

A crowd gathers at the scene of a fire at the cathedral. Reuters

Firefighters work at the scene of a blaze at the cathedral. Reuters

Firefighters are at work to put out a fire at the Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral. AFP

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Associated Press

July 26, 2020

July 26, 2020

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French authorities detained and charged a repentant church volunteer on Sunday after he told investigators that he was responsible for an arson attack that badly damaged a 15th-century Gothic cathedral.

The man had previously been questioned and then released after the July 18 blaze that destroyed the organ, shattered stained glass windows, and blackened the insides of the Cathedral of St Peter and St Paul of the western French city of Nantes.

Detained again this weekend for further questioning, the volunteer church worker finally admitted responsibility for the fire, said his lawyer, Quentin Chabert.

“He confessed to the allegations against him which, as the prosecutor indicated, are causing destruction and damage by fire,” the lawyer told France Info radio. “He regrets the facts. That is certain. He is in a sort of repentance.”

French media quoted the Nantes prosecutor as saying that the 39-year-old Rwandan, who had been tasked with the job of locking up the cathedral, told the investigating magistrate that he lit three fires: on two cathedral organs and an electrical box. His motives were unknown.

The reports quoted the prosecutor as saying that the arson charge is punishable by a 10-year jail term.

Updated: July 26, 2020 12:15 PM

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