Gangster escapes French prison by helicopter

Redoine Faid, an inmate, used explosives and took hostages to escape out of jail.

Investigators transport an Alouette II helicopter allegedly abandoned by French prisoner Redoine Faid and suspected accomplices after his escape from the prison of Reau, in Gonesse, north of Paris, France, July 1, 2018.

This is the second time Faid has made a daring escape from prison. At that time he used four guards as human shields and explosives that were hidden in a tissue box to blow out prison gates.

He was captured six weeks later in a hotel outside of the French capital.

The 46-year-old Faid was serving time for the 2010 death of a young police officer killed during a botched robbery.

A notorious gangster has escaped from prison in France in a helicopter flown by three armed accomplices, authorities have said.

The men apparently went on to use a auto that was later found torched in a shopping mall parking lot, police said.

Faid has a violent criminal record dating to at least the 1990s, when he organized the robberies of banks, shops and armored vehicles. He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to the French media.

Faid's accomplices took hostage a flying instructor from a small flying school in Fontenay-Trésigny commune, and ordered him to fly to the prison. In 2001, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison for armed robbery.

Prior to the 2013 escape, Faid had been released from a previous stint of a decade behind bars after convincing parole officials that he regretted his criminal past and was determined to start afresh.

In 2009 he wrote a book about his experiences of growing up in Paris's crime-ridden suburbs and graduating into a life of crime. He is said to be devoted to Robert De Niro movies and the stylised crime thrillers of U.S. director Michael Mann.

He wrote that he had watched the film dozens of times to ideal his bank-robbing prowess. One of his prison supervisors said that Faid had never had any conflict with staff, "but we must always be wary". "Behind all his manners - he is very polite - he always hid his game", the supervisor said.

The courtyard that they landed the helicopter in is the only one in Réau that doesn't have helicopter nets on it. Helicopter escapes from prisons in France were relatively common up until the late 2000s.

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