A week after the fire in Nantes cathedral, a volunteer from the diocese confessed and was remanded in custody overnight from Saturday to Sunday for “destruction and damage by fire”. “My client cooperated”, the lawyer for the accused, Me Quentin Chabert, told the daily Presse-Océan. “He bitterly regrets the facts and evoking this was a liberation for him. My client is today consumed with remorse and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the events”, he assures.
The man “admitted, during the first appearance before the examining magistrate, having lit the three fires in the cathedral: on the large organ, the small organ and in an electrical panel“, specified the public prosecutor of Nantes Pierre Sennès daily. The volunteer, 39 years old, who was responsible for closing the cathedral the day before the fire, was indicted (indicted) “counts of destruction and degradation by fire and remanded in custody by the judge of freedoms and detention“, the prosecutor said in a statement.
The volunteer faces 10 years in prison
The volunteer was taken into police custody on July 18 a few hours after the fire and the opening of the investigation, then released the following evening. The investigators wanted to question him because after the fire, no trace of break-in had been observed on the accesses to the building in which three starting points of fire had been observed. The volunteer incurs for this offense “a 10-year prison sentence and a fine of 150,000 euros“, said Pierre Sennès in an email sent overnight.
On July 18, around 7:45 am, passers-by saw flames coming out of the cathedral and gave the alert. It took about two hours for the firefighters to contain the fire, which notably destroyed a 19th century painting by Hippolyte Flandrin and the great organ. The fire at Nantes cathedral, which occurred 15 months after that of 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 The construction of this cathedral, in a flamboyant Gothic style, lasted several centuries (from 1434 to 1891).