French convict escapes from prison using a helicopter

A man convicted of murder has escaped from prison using a helicopter, France's Justice Ministry said.

Faid, who has said he was inspired by U.S. films such as "Scarface" and "Heat", was serving 25 years in Reau prison for his part in a botched robbery of a cash-transport van near Paris in 2010, which he masterminded and in which a 26-year-old policewoman was killed. In 2013, Faid managed to escape from a prison in Lille, France, by taking four guards hostage and then detonating explosives hidden in a tissue box to blow out the prison gates, local outlets reported. 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.

A notorious gangster has escaped from prison in France in a helicopter flown by three armed accomplices, authorities have said. It was then found burnt out by local police.

Faid grew up in the French capital's tough immigrant suburbs.

The prison courtyard it landed in was the only one not fitted with anti-helicopter nets as it is used by inmates exclusively when they are being admitted to or released from the jail.

Faid was freed in 2009 after serving 10 years in prison and at the time he swore he had turned his life around.

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A woman working at the hotel told AFP at the time that Faid's accomplice had paid for the room in cash and that the two men had been there for several days. Faid was talking with his brother at that time.

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 French media.

Police nicknamed him "The Author" for two books he co-wrote about his delinquent youth. He is said to be devoted to Robert De Niro movies and the stylised crime thrillers of United States director Michael Mann.

Faid is not the first prisoner to escape in a helicopter.

Still, he was the suspected mastermind of the attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a high-speed chase and a shootout with police that killed 26-year-old Aurelie Fouquet. "In the corner of his mind, he never lost the idea of escaping".

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