Notorious French gangster flees prison in daring helicopter escape


France's Justice Ministry says a Frenchman convicted of murder has escaped from prison using a helicopter.

Redoine Faid was being visited by his brother in Reau prison in the Paris region when the men burst into the room yesterday morning and extracted him.

Faid serving 25 years for murder made an audacious escape from prison Sunday after a helicopter carrying several heavily armed commandos landed in a courtyard, freed him from a visiting room and carried him away.

Belloubet said police had launched a manhunt and described Faid as unsafe.

She suggested that leaving Faid in the same prison for "a few months" had been a mistake. Faid had already escaped once before, in 2013, by blasting his way out with explosives hidden in tissue packs.

He was recaptured six weeks later at a hotel on the outskirts of Paris.

Faid, who has said he was inspired by U.S. films such as "Scarface" and "Heat", was serving 25 years in Réau prison for his part in a botched 2010 cash-transport van robbery that he masterminded. Unarmed guards said they could do nothing to prevent it. Loud cheers can be heard as the helicopter soars beyond the jail.

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Three masked gunmen armed with assault rifles landed a stolen helicopter at the prison and plucked Faid out at around 11:20 a.m. on Sunday.

Faid has been behind bars since mid-2011 for breaking the terms of his parole over past convictions for bank robberies and brazen heists of cash-in-transit vehicles. The gunmen then removed Faid from the visiting room, where he had been talking with his brother, and fled in the helicopter. It has been reported that the helicopter pilot was released without injury.

In the 1990s, he was co-leader of a gang engaged in jewel theft, armed robbery and extortion in the Paris area.

Faid has authored a book in which he detailed his experiences growing up in a crime-ridden suburb of Paris.

In 2009 Faid was released from prison after serving 10 years, and he wrote a confessional book and did numerous television interviews, swearing he'd turned himself around and abandoned crime.

But he was suspected of masterminding an attempted armed robbery in 2010 that led to a high-speed chase and a shootout with police in which 26-year-old policewoman Aurelie Fouquet was killed.