Suspect surrenders after killing Catholic priest

A Catholic priest was murdered on Monday in the French western region of Vendée, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Twitter.

priest using microphone
Photo by Marcelo Chagas on Pexels.com

Darmanin expressed “all his support to the Catholics of our country” and said he was headed to the site in Saint-Laurent-sur-Sèvre.

A suspect handed himself over to police and said he had killed the priest, a source close to the case told AFP news agency.

The man, a Rwandan national, had previously admitted setting the Nantes cathedral on fire in July 2020, the source added.

He had been placed in detention before being released under judicial supervision.

The priest, aged 60, had been hosting the suspect for “several months,” a police source said.

“On behalf of the Nation, I pay tribute to Father Olivier Maire,” President Emmanuel Macron tweeted after hailing the clergyman’s “generosity.”

“Protecting those who believe is a priority,” Macron added.

Reached by Euronews, the French anti-terror prosecutor’s office said the “facts did not seem to be of a terrorist nature.”

Several opposition politicians slammed the government’s alleged “failure” after the tragedy.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen tweeted: “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.”

Darmanin said the suspect was not deportable while he was still under judicial supervision and accused Le Pen of “arguing without knowing the facts.”