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Church volunteer acknowledges arson in Nantes Cathedral

A church volunteer has been charged after telling investigators that he was responsible for an arson that seriously damaged a 15th-century Gothic cathedral in western France.

The man had been questioned before and then released after the fire that destroyed the organ, shattered stained glass windows, and blackened the interior of St Peter and St Paul’s cathedral in Nantes on July 18.

When he was detained again this weekend for further interrogation, he eventually admitted responsibility for the fire, his lawyer, Quentin Chabert, said.

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Firefighters work to extinguish the fire in the Gothic St Peter and St Paul’s Cathedral in Nantes (Romain Boulanger / AP)

“He confessed to the charges against him that, as the prosecution pointed out, cause destruction and damage through fire,” the lawyer told France Info Radio.

“He regrets the facts. That’s for sure. He’s kind of sorry. ‘

French media quoted the Nantes prosecutor saying that 39-year-old Rwandan, who was ordered to lock up the cathedral, told the investigating judge that he had lit three fires – on two cathedral organs and a switch box. His motives were unknown.

In the reports, the prosecution was quoted as saying that the arson is punishable by a 10-year sentence.