Notorious thief flees French jail by helicopter

Sud-Francilien prison outside Paris when Redoine Faid had escaped in 2013

An infamous criminal managed to escape from prison on the outskirts of Paris after an "armed commando" landed a helicopter in the complex's courtyard and whisked him away, France's Ministry of Justice said on Sunday.

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. Faid was talking with his brother at that time. In 2013, he fled, taking hostage four police officers and blowing up with dynamite a few doors in the prison. He said he didn't know who Faid was, even though he is a notorious figure in France who has also written a book on his life of crime.

However, Faid has strong links to Israel, and it is feared he may be trying to flee there.

According to news channel BFM-TV, the breakout was pulled off while Faid was in the prison's visiting room around 11.30am local time.

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Investigators say a notorious gangster broke out of prison for the second time.

The helicopter, whose pilot may have been taken hostage, was found burnt out north of Paris. It has been reported that the helicopter pilot was released without injury.

She said mobile phones, often used illicitly by convicts, would be jammed in French prisons from October.

Redoine Faid was serving a long-term sentence at a prison south of Paris for armed robbery and the murder of a policewoman in 2010 after a heist that went wrong.

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Spectacular helicopter jailbreaks became a regular embarrassment for French penal authorities until the late 2000s, but have petered out since prisoner exercise yards in most jails were equipped with nets to prevent helicopters from landing. He was recaptured six weeks later in a hotel room.

Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet said authorities are urgently looking for gaps in the security system that would have allowed the brazen break-out.

One of the prison supervisors added, "In the corner of his (Faid) mind, he never lost the idea of escaping".

Attorney Laurent-Frank Lienard said Fouquet's parents are certain Faid "was involved at the highest level in the robbery attempt that led to Aurélie Fouquet's death".

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Faid, who grew up in tough immigrant suburbs outside Paris, has made several television appearances and co-authored two books about his delinquent youth and rise as a criminal in the Paris suburbs.

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