Emmanuel Abayisenga, a 42-year-old Rwandan national, was sentenced on Wednesday March 29 to four years in prison by the city’s criminal court, which held that this man had impaired discernment at the time of the events. Judged for destruction and degradation of the property of others, he admitted the facts from the start of the hearing.
Frail silhouette lost in a red anorak, Emmanuel Abayisenga advances painfully, looking disoriented. The president first goes back to the facts: the fire set in three points of the cathedral on July 18, 2020, but also this email, sent three hours before the fire, which quickly made him the main suspect.
The Rwandan, a volunteer sacristan, allowed it to shine through, recalls the court, “ his bitterness and distress at having come to the end of his efforts to have an obligation to leave the territory canceled “. A ” injustice for Emmanuel Abayisenga, who also wrote that the violent beating he suffered one evening in 2018 when closing the cathedral after installing sound equipment there should have weighed in his favor.
From a very small Yes “, the accused admits having set the fire, but his hearing problems, his back and forth between French and Kinyarwanda and his manifest anxiety make the interrogation laborious.
Overwhelmed by traumatic memories
By dint of delicacy, the president gleans some explanations. The man says that that morning, he had gone to pray to calm down, but had to stop because of his incontinence, a consequence of the attack. And it was while passing, precisely, near the place where he had been attacked, that the traumatic memories invaded him. I lost control, breathes the accused, who indicates having attacked three sound elements, including the organs because he associated them with the aggression. It was not, he said, a gesture of anger related to the expulsion decision. ” I am sorry. I wanted to give my contribution to the country that welcomed me, but that didn’t happen. Pardon he whispers.
A little earlier, the accused had suddenly admitted having lied about his youth in Rwanda and invented traumas he had not suffered. The court finally considered that his discernment had been altered at the time of his acting out, in connection with the trauma of his attack. He also rejected the request of the prosecution, which had requested a permanent ban from French territory. Because Emmanuel Abayisenga is indicted in another case, the assassination of a priest a year after the fire, but also, underlined the president, because ” the court does not have elements to assess what would be his situation in Rwanda “.
►Also read: Fire in Nantes Cathedral: the confessions of a Rwandan volunteer