Vendée: what we know about the murder of priest Olivier Maire in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre

The body of a priest was discovered Monday, August 9, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre (Vendée). A man, who was staying in his religious community, went to the gendarmerie in the middle of the morning to denounce himself. This is the volunteer sacristan of Rwandan nationality, indicted for the fire at Nantes cathedral in July 2020. The man was taken into police custody. “In no case has the National Antiterrorist Prosecutor taken up this file”, underlined Monday afternoon Yannick Le Goater, deputy prosecutor of La-Roche-sur-Yon, during a press conference.

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Franceinfo looks back on what we know about the murder of the priest.

A priest found dead, an investigation for “intentional homicide” opened

The body of Father Olivier Maire, a 60-year-old priest, was discovered Monday morning in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre, in his room within the premises of the community of the missionary brothers in Montfort. An investigation has been opened for “intentional homicide”

The investigation was entrusted to the research section of the Nantes gendarmerie, which is on site to carry out investigations. The terrorist trail has been ruled out, the prosecutor said.

“It is a barely descriptive emotion this afternoon to learn that one of our priests could be murdered in this way when they are men who have always tried to do good. There was none. alert and this morning we are stunned “, reacted on franceinfo Alain Leboeuf, LR president of the Vendée departmental council, after the confession of the assassination of a religious in Vendée.

A suspect placed in police custody

Emmanuel Abayisenga, a 40-year-old man, presented himself to the gendarmerie on Monday morning. He has already been indicted and placed under judicial supervision for the fire at Nantes cathedral, which took place in July 2020. He was subsequently welcomed into the community of missionary brothers from Montfort in May 2021, within the framework of of a “residency obligation”, assures the prosecutor. He was also subject to strict judicial control “with obligation to score twice a month”.

Between June 20 and July 29, he was hospitalized in a unit psychiatric, before returning to the community of Montfort missionary brothers.

The man was taken into custody and the investigation was entrusted to the research section of the Nantes gendarmerie, said the prosecutor. “He was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit. An expertise is underway to verify that his condition is compatible with police custody,” To explained Yannick Le Goater.

A controversy triggered by right-wing elected officials on the refugee status of the suspect

The refugee status of the suspect of Rwandan nationality sparked a heated debate. The president of the National Rally, Marine Le Pen, reacted immediately on Twitter. “In France, one can therefore be clandestine, set fire to Nantes cathedral, never be expelled, and reoffend by murdering a priest”, she wrote, seeing there the “complete bankruptcy of the State and of Gerald Darmanin”.

The Minister of the Interior responded without delay on Twitter. “This foreigner was not deportable despite his deportation order as long as his judicial control was not lifted”. He accused Marine Le Pen of “to argue without knowing the facts”.

According to the Interior Ministry, the man was already under the influence of several obligations to leave French territory. The first dates back to December 1, 2016 and was canceled by the Nantes administrative court; the second, dated April 11, 2017, was also canceled by the Nantes administrative court. The third, which was pronounced on November 5, 2019, gave rise to an appeal before the administrative court of Nantes and was judged “not executable due to judicial review decided by the judge “.

The Minister of the Interior expected on site

The Minister of the Interior will visit the scene late Monday afternoon, the ministry told franceinfo. He is due to speak around 6 p.m.

On Twitter, Gérald Darmanin addressed “all [son] support for the Catholics of our country after the dramatic assassination of a priest in Vendée “. The minister will be accompanied by Bruno Retailleau, who knew the priest well.

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