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French police free man questioned over Gothic cathedral fire in Nantes

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French police cleared a 39-year-old Rwandan refugee of all suspicion on Sunday and released him after questioning the man about a fire at a historic Gothic cathedral in the French city of Nantes.

French Prime Minister Jean Castex, right, meets firefighters after the blaze at the Gothic St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, in Nantes, western France, on Saturday. The fire blew out stained-glass windows and destroyed the grand organ.(Laetitia Notarianni/Pool photo via The Associated Press)

French police cleared a 39-year-old Rwandan refugee of all suspicion on Sunday and released him after questioning the man about a fire at the 15th-century cathedral in the French city of Nantes.

"He is not implicated. The inconsistencies that came up have been clarified," Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes told Reuters.

The fire engulfed the inside of the Gothic structure in flames on Saturday, destroying a grand organ, stained-glass windows and a painting.

Authorities said an investigation for suspected arson had been opened.

The man who was taken into custody on Saturday worked as a volunteer for the cathedral and had been in charge of locking up the building on Friday night. He had been held to clear up inconsistencies in his schedule. He was not identified.

The blaze happened just over a year after a fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris destroyed its roof and main spire.

The lawyer for the volunteer said earlier nothing directly linked his client to the incident.

"To my knowledge, as things stand there is nothing that directly links my client to the cathedral fire," lawyer Quentin Chabert told reporters on Sunday.

He also said that "politicians are meddling in the situation," and that should not prevent a sense of perspective over a fire that had not endangered human life, although it caused significant damage.

Firefighters work to extinguish the blaze at St. Peter and St. Paul Cathedral, in Nantes, western France, on Saturday. The fire is bringing back memories of the devastating blaze at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15, 2019.(Laetitia Notarianni/The Associated Press)

The fire began on Saturday morning and engulfed the inside of the Gothic structure. Sennes said three fires had been started at the site, and there had been no signs of a break-in. Firefighters brought it under control after several hours and extinguished it completely by the afternoon.

The cathedral's rector, Rev. Hubert Champenois, told BFM TV that the man who had been taken into custody worked for several years at the cathedral and he trusted him completely.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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