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Rwanda refugee confesses to setting fire to cathedral in France

A refugee who had worked as a volunteer at the Saint Peter and Saint Paul Cathedral in the western French city of Nantes has confessed to setting the fire that damaged the grand organ inside the cathedral one week ago, Xinhua reported citing French media sources on Sunday.

The suspect, a 39-year-old asylum seeker from Rwanda who has lived in France for several years, was arrested on Saturday. He admitted that he set three fires in the cathedral — at the main organ, the smaller organ, and the electrical panel, Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes told local newspaper Presse-Ocean.

Charged with “destruction and damage by fire,” the suspect faces up to 10 years in prison and 150,000 euros (USD 174,827) in fines, according to the prosecutor.

The fire at the 15th-century Gothic cathedral on July 18 destroyed its organ. Also lost were priceless artifacts and paintings, including a work by the 19th-century artist Jean-Hippolyte Flandrin and stained glass windows that contained remnants of 16th-century glass, according to state-owned broadcaster France 24.

The French government has said it will ensure the cathedral’s restoration.

The fire destroyed the 400-year-old organ, but the building itself remained intact and not at risk of collapsing. (ANI)

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