French gangster flees prison in spectacular helicopter escape

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Officials later found the burnt and abandoned helicopter in Garges-les-Gonesse north of Paris.

The crime took place when Faid's brother was visiting him.

The escape came after an appeals court in April sentenced Faid to 25 years for masterminding a botched armed robbery in 2010 in which a policewoman was killed.

A third man in the prison courtyard, as reported, guarded the helicopter and its pilot, a flying instructor whom the men had hijacked in a nearby airfield and forced him to take part in the dramatic escape.

Soon, Faid reportedly appeared in the courtyard, escorted by armed accomplices who had freed him from the prison visiting room, and boarded the aircraft, Reuters reported.

According to the Associated Press, Redoine Faid, who is serving 25 years for failed robbery and murder of a police officer, previously escaped another prison in 2013 using explosives hidden in packs of tissues before being rearrested a month later.

He is one of country's most famous gangsters with a long career as a thief which he has said was inspired by Hollywood blockbuster movies such as Scarface and Heat.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told Europe 1 radio that she had sent a team of inspectors to the jail "to see whether the security measures were defective so that we can rectify them".

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Three armed accomplices extracted Faid from the Reau prison late on Sunday. Back in 2013 he blasted out of jail using dynamite, he also took 4 prison wardens hostage during this attempt.

The helicopter used in the prison escape was found in a northeast suburb of Paris.

Video taken by another inmate at Reau prison in the Paris region shows Faid make his daring escape from the prison grounds. The pilot was later released with no physical injuries, according to AP.

Faid "led a gang involved in robbing banks and armored vans" in the 90s, the wire service adds, and was freed in 2009 after serving 10 years in prison.

He was arrested in 1998 after three years on the run in Switzerland and Israel, according to French media.

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

Before that incident, Faid had been released from prison after convincing the parole board that he renounced his criminal past.

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