Police release volunteer questioned over Nantes Catholic cathedral fire

nantes cathedral public domain 1 The Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral in Nantes, France, before a July 18 fire now being investigated for arson. | public domain

A volunteer questioned by French police in connection with the fire at Nantes Cathedral has been released without charge.

The 39-year-old Rwandan refugee was detained following the July 18 fire at the Gothic cathedral which police suspect was caused by arson.

He was freed Sunday evening, according the Nantes public prosecutor.

The BBC reported that the man, who has not been named, was responsible for locking the cathedral the day before the fire. He was detained on Saturday and questioned by police in order to clear up alleged inconsistencies in his schedule.

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

Le Figaro quoted Jean-Charles Nowak, a clerk at the cathedral, as saying that the volunteer was "a man of duty" who had "suffered a lot in Rwanda."

"I don't believe for a second that he could have set the cathedral on fire. It's a place he adores," Nowak told the French newspaper.

Firefighters were called to Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul cathedral, which dates from the 15th century, on Saturday morning to tackle a blaze which destroyed a historic organ and stained-glass windows.

The incident occurred 15 months after a fire ravaged Notre-Dame de Paris, destroying the cathedral's spire and roof beams.

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