One week after the fire in Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul Cathedral, a volunteer from the diocese admitted and was arrested in custody overnight from Saturday to Sunday for “destruction and fire damage”.
The circumstances of the fire in the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes are becoming increasingly clear, the criminal trail is now popular. A volunteer from the diocese, who was arrested for a time and then released, was prosecuted and detained overnight from Saturday 25 to Sunday 26 July for “destruction and damage by fire”, in accordance with the prosecutor’s demands. He incurs for this crime “a sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of 150,000 euros”, added the public prosecutor in Nantes, Pierre Sennès.
A “subsequent communication” will be made when the decisions of the investigating judge and the Judge for Freedoms and Detention (JLD) are known, he said.
The 39-year-old man was responsible for closing the cathedral the day before the fire. It is about a “Rwandan, came to refugee in France a few years ago”, had last week explained to Agence France Presse (AFP) rector of the cathedral in Nantes, the father Hubert Champenois.
According to the principal, the volunteer serves “as an altar” and he had known him “for four or five years”. “I trust him as in all collaborators,” he told AFP.
Released after first custody
The volunteer was taken into police custody a few hours after the investigation, on July 18, and was subsequently released the following evening. Investigators wanted to ask him because no traces of burglary had been observed on access to the building.
He was arrested again, then placed in police custody on Saturday morning and presented in the evening to the Nantes prosecutor’s office, which opened a legal investigation, the prosecutor said.
In the course of this investigation, “more than thirty people” were heard and twenty investigators of the judicial police were mobilized, in particular the reinforcement of the central laboratory of the prefecture of the Paris police, to determine the cause. of the fire, Pierre Sennès explained in a statement on Saturday night. “The first results communicated by the central laboratory of the prefecture of police in Paris lead to privileges of the criminal trail,” he added.
The investigation revealed the presence of three distinct hotspots in the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul. “Between the large organ, which is on the facade of the first floor, and the other lamps, you have almost the entire distance from the cathedral. They are still at a considerable distance from each other,” noted the day of firing the prosecutor.
A reconstruction “stone by stone”
The alarm was given on July 18 around 7.45 by passers-by who had seen flames coming out of the cathedral. It took about two hours for firefighters to contain the fire that destroyed a painting by Hippolyte Flandrin from the 19th century and the large organ.
Apart from the large organ, of which “very few, if any, elements will be saved”, according to Philippe Charron, head of the cultural heritage department at the Regional Directorate for Cultural Affairs (DRAC), “most of the work has been saved” and stored “especially in the castle in Nantes “.
“We count in weeks the safety of the site, (…) in months the investigation that will be done stone by stone”, and on how long the reconstruction site was preceded by a study phase, “where the unit will rather be the year”, Mr. Charron estimated. The state “will take its full part” in the reconstruction, promised Prime Minister Jean Castex, who came to Nantes to congratulate the firefighters day by day fire.
The fire in Nantes Cathedral, which occurred 15 months after Notre-Dame de Paris, aroused great emotion among the people of Nantes, some of whom have remembered a previous fire in the building on January 28, 1972.
With AFP and Reuters