Nantes cathedral fire: volunteer admits to arson

French authorities have detained and charged a church volunteer after he told investigators he was responsible for the blaze

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

The man had 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.

The volunteer church worker admitted responsibility for the fire after being detained this weekend for further questioning, said his lawyer, Quentin Chabert.

“He confessed to the allegations against him which, as the prosecutor indicated, are causing destruction and damage by fire,” Mr Chabert 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 the Rwandan man, 39, whose duties included locking the cathedral, told the investigating magistrate that he lit three fires: on two cathedral organs and an electrical box.

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

Updated: July 26, 2020 01:33 PM

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