Nantes cathedral fire: a Rwandan volunteer on trial

Nantes cathedral fire a Rwandan volunteer on trial

It was July 18, 2020, fifteen months after the fire that ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris. The flames caused significant destruction to Nantes Cathedral. The trial of the alleged arsonist, a 42-year-old Rwandan national described as psychologically fragile, is being held this Wednesday, March 29 at the Nantes court.

The fire had caused considerable damage, destroying stained glass, master paintings and even the four-hundred-year-old organ, whose pipes, by melting, had also contaminated the building with lead.

Suspicion quickly turned to Emmanuel Abayisenga, volunteer sacristan in charge of closing the cathedral, who had confessed. After several months in pre-trial detention, this Rwandan had been released on parole.

Assassination case under investigation

He had been welcomed into a congregation of missionaries, whose superior father had been found murdered on August 9, 2021. The next day, Emmanuel Abayisenga went to the gendarmerie to accuse himself of the crime.

This murder case is still under investigation. This Wednesday, March 29, it is only on the fire component that the forties must appear, for ” destruction ” And ” damage to the property of others “.

According to his lawyer, although he is still very fragile psychologically », « weakened by detention ” And ” anxious about the upcoming hearing “Emmanuel Abayisenga” wants to explain himself, in particular vis-à-vis the Christian community who supported him a lot from his arrival in France, and to whom he asks forgiveness “.

It is dizzying for him to confront the act itself, but also the sums necessary for the repairs, which he obviously does not have the means to pay. “, adds Me Meriem Abkoui. Between the restoration of the building and its lead depollution, the cost of the work is estimated at some 30 million euros.

►Also read: Fire in the cathedral of Nantes: the confessions of a Rwandan volunteer