Crime: After helicopter escape near Paris: Long prison for escapees

Serious criminal Rédoine Faïd made headlines in France five years ago with a cinematic prison escape by helicopter and the help of an armed commando.

Crime: After helicopter escape near Paris: Long prison for escapees

Serious criminal Rédoine Faïd made headlines in France five years ago with a cinematic prison escape by helicopter and the help of an armed commando. For the second time, the crook known for robbing money transporters and banks escaped from prison and made a fool of the French justice system. On Thursday night, a court in Paris sentenced the 51-year-old Frenchman to 14 years in prison. The prosecution had demanded 22 years in prison for the confessed escapee, while his defense attorney had pleaded for five to eight years in prison. Eleven suspected helpers were also on trial.

On July 1, 2018, three armed accomplices took control of a helicopter, landed it in a courtyard of the Réau prison, southeast of Paris, and took Faïd on board. The helicopter flew away to the applause of other prisoners. The action only lasted a few minutes and no one was seriously injured.

Faïd's two brothers and three nephews were also co-accused. The serial perpetrator, who had already been sentenced to prison several times, was caught near Paris three months after his escape. In order not to be tracked down by investigators, he temporarily hid under a burqa, i.e. under a full-body veil.

Spectacular escape

Faïd had already managed a spectacular escape from prison in 2013. To do this, he detonated explosives on five doors of the prison and temporarily took four guards hostage. The police organization Interpol used a wanted poster to search for the escapee in the 190 member states - ultimately successful, he ended up behind bars again. In 2018, a court sentenced Faïd to 25 years in prison for his alleged role in a failed robbery in 2010. A policewoman was killed during a chase.

In addition to the wanted posters, people in France had long known the serious criminal as a sought-after talk show guest. Faïd, who, in his own words, was fascinated by gangster films as a teenager, published an autobiographical novel in 2010 after his first long prison sentence and was then a guest on numerous TV shows. “Bank Robber: From Suburban Settlement to Major Criminal” was the title of his book.

Contrary to what was announced in the novel, his criminal career continued. He was also inspired by the gangster film "Heat", as he told the film's maker, Michael Mann, at a public meeting. He watched the film enthusiastically again and again, also for learning purposes.

Apologize in court

In court, the serious criminal apologized to the helicopter pilot Stéphane Buy, who flew him out of prison under duress five years ago and was now sitting opposite him. The escape was forced by force and traumatized people; today he would not carry out the operation again, claimed Faïd. Two accomplices had booked a flight with the pilot, but had already threatened him at the airport so that he would take a certain helicopter. "They coerced me and warned me that my family was in danger," the pilot said at the time. Later he was also beaten and directed to the prison.

In the dock in Paris, the professional gangster was now remorseful - and vowed to improve. He will not relapse again. The judiciary preferred to play it safe and took special security precautions for the procedure. Among other things, an elite gendarmerie unit was deployed to thwart any new escape attempts.

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