France: Illegal Migrant Who Set Nantes Cathedral on Fire Suspected of Beating Catholic Priest to Death

Catholic priest Olivier Maire, 60, has been killed in Mortagne-sur-Sèvre in western France, according to authorities.

The suspect, a Rwandan refugee named Emmanuel Abayisenga, the same man who was previously charged with setting the Nantes Cathedral on fire, turned himself in to the police and confessed on Monday, Valeurs Actuelles reported.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has gone to the department of Vendée, where the murder occurred. According to BFMTV, police are not considering the assassination to be a terrorist attack at this stage.

The Daily Mail reported, citing a source, that according to the early evidence, the 60-year-old priest had been beaten to death.

Interior Minister Darmanin addressed the murder, pledging his full support for grieving Catholics and departing to the scene of the incident.

At the same time, he clashed with French politician Marine Le Pen, who had earlier slammed the minister and the government as a whole, for allowing such a crime to happen.

"In France, you can therefore be an illegal immigrant, burn the cathedral of Nantes, never be expelled, and repeat by murdering a priest. What is happening in our country is of unprecedented gravity: it is the complete bankruptcy of the state and [Interrior Minister] @GDarmanin," she said in a tweet.

The minister, however, noted that the suspect "was not deportable despite his deportation order until his judicial review was lifted".

In 2020, Abayisenga was detained for arson and was under judicial supervision. According to French authorities, he was refused asylum back in 2019 and was supposed to leave the country, but he remained in France. At the time, he confessed that the decision to set the cathedral on fire was revenge for the rejection of his asylum application by the French authorities.

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