Refugee Who Set Fire To Cathedral In 2020 Murders French Priest

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A refugee who allegedly set fire to a cathedral last year confessed to murdering a Catholic priest in western France on Monday.

Olivier Maire, 60, a Catholic priest in the town of Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, was murdered Monday by Emmanuel Abayisenga, a Rwandan refugee who was staying at the priest’s church, according to Euronews. Abayisenga, who turned himself in to authorities, is the same man who confessed to setting fire to the Nantes cathedral in July 2020, Agence France Presse reported.

“All my support for the Catholics of our country after the dramatic murder of a priest in the Vendee region,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin tweeted, saying he would visit the town, according to AFP.

Abayisenga had initially been released without charge after confessing to starting three fires in the cathedral of Nantes before he was rearrested and formally charged, the BBC reported. He had admitted during questioning to setting fire to two of the cathedral’s organs and its electrical panel.

An unnamed source told AFP that Abayisenga had entered the police station of the town of Mortagne-sur-Sevre and confessed to murdering Maire.

French officials did not believe the murder to be related to terrorism, Euronews reported. Abayisenga had met with Pope Francis in 2016 during a festival in Rome, according to La Croix.

Abayisenga’s asylum request had been rejected, but he had yet to be deported due to ongoing judicial proceedings regarding the cathedral fires, according to the BBC. Authorities were holding Abayisenga under judicial supervision at Maire’s parish while he awaited trial for the fires, Reuters reported, but had sent him to a psychiatric hospital in July.

“So in France, it’s possible to be an illegal immigrant, to set fire to the cathedral of Nantes, never to be expelled, and to re-offend by murdering a priest,” French politician and anti-immigration advocate Marine Le Pen tweeted.

Darmanin, France’s interior minister, said Le Pen was “causing debate without knowing the facts.” Abayisenga could not be expelled from the country while he was under judicial supervision, he said.

The French Ministry of the Interior did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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