Skip to content
Rwandan who burned down French cathedral charged with murder of priest

More than a year after his arrest for the murder of a French priest, Rwandan migrant Emmanuel Abayisenga has been charged by a French prosecutor.

The public prosecutor of La Roche sur Yon announced on Friday the indictment of Emmanuel Abayisenga for the murder of the French priest Olivier Maire, beaten to death last August.

“In accordance with the requisitions of the prosecution, he was placed in pre-trial detention after an adversarial debate before the judge of freedoms and detention”, declared the prosecutor to the French newspaper. Progress reports.

The announcement of the indictment took over a year as Abayisenga was placed in psychiatric care following his arrest in August last year when he turned himself in to local authorities and was described as mentally unstable.

The alleged murder of Father Maire came just over a year after Abayisenga was arrested for an arson attack on the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre and Saint-Paul in Nantes which caused extensive damage.

The fire destroyed the great organ and several stained glass windows in the cathedral, construction of which began in 1434 and was not completed until 1891.

Last August’s killing was shocked across France and also commented on by Pope Francis, who said he felt “great sadness” after learning of Father Maire’s death.

“I present my condolences to the Montfortian religious community of Saint Laurent-sur-Sèvre, in Vendée, to his family and to all Catholics in France,” Pope Francis said. “I assure you of my sympathy and my spiritual closeness. To all, my blessing.

It was also revealed that Mr Abayisenga had actually met the Roman pontiff in 2016 when the Rwandan visited the Vatican, with a photo of his meeting with Pope Francis published in French media.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or by e-mail at ctomlinson(at)


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.