Notorious thief flees French jail by helicopter: Prison authority

02 July, 2018, 05:56 | Author: Sheila Harris

A notorious career thief who was once France's most-wanted man pulled off a daring jailbreak on Sunday, fleeing a prison near Paris by helicopter in a commando-style operation.

The ministry said Redoine Faid's escape only took "a few minutes" on Sunday and no-one was injured or taken hostage.

The passenger it sought was a 46-year-old gangster named Redoine Faid, who had been serving a 25-year sentence at the prison for armed robbery and murder. In 2013, he blasted his way out of prison with explosives concealed in tissue packs before he was arrested at a hotel six weeks later. He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to French media reports.

According to Agence France-Presse, Faid has been sentenced to serve 25 years "for masterminding a May 2010 botched armed robbery, in which a policewoman was killed".

Two of the men reportedly burst into the visiting room while the third waited in the prison courtyard and watched over the helicopter pilot, a flying instructor whose chopper the men hijacked in a nearby airfield.

The Ministry of the Interior said a huge police response has been ordered in an attempt to catch the fugitive, who has been described as risky.

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He spent years as an worldwide fugitive before his capture, and then a decade in prison, and then wrote an autobiography after his release on parole in 2009.

Faid had already previously escaped from jail.

The helicopter was later found abandoned in the town of Garges-les-Gonesse, in the northern suburbs of Paris.

In the 1990s, Faid led a criminal gang involved in armed robbery of banks and armoured vans transporting money. The 46-year-old is believed to have fled in a vehicle with the armed accomplices.

Following a decade in prison, he was released under conditions in 2009 after convincing parole officers that he had changed.

His infamy has increased since then following appearances in several television shows and co-writing books recounting his past and rise as a criminal in the tough suburbs of Paris. "Take away the [lessons taught by] cinema and you would have 50 percent less crime", he once told Michael Mann, the director of Heat (1995), his favourite film. Unarmed guards said they could do nothing to prevent it.

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