“He confessed to the allegations made against him which, as indicated by the prosecutor, caused destruction and damage by fire,” the lawyer told France Info radio. “He regrets the facts. For sure. He’s in a sort of repentance. ”
French media quoted the Nantes prosecutor as saying that the 39-year-old Rwandan, responsible for locking the cathedral, told the examining magistrate that he had started three fires: on two organs of the cathedral and an electrical box. His motives were unknown.
The prosecutor said the arson was punishable by 10 years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros (234,500 Canadian dollars).
Picked up immediately after the fire, detained for more than a day and then released, the man was detained again on Saturday morning, based on evidence gathered by police forensic experts and a team of 20 investigators who interviewed more than 30 people, the prosecutor said in a statement.
The fire broke the main stained-glass windows between the two towers of the cathedral and destroyed its main organ. Dating from the 17th century, the organ was called “the soul of the cathedral” by the faithful.
The cathedral was built over five centuries and completed in 1891. The organ had already survived a serious fire in 1972, which destroyed much of its wooden structures.