'Pink panther' jewel thief escapes Swiss jail

Comedian and actor Peter Sellers (1925 - 1980) as Inspector Clouseau in "The Pink Panther Returns".  (1974) Peter Sellers starred as Inspector Clouseau in the Pink Panther series of films

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A Bosnian member of the "Pink Panther" group of international jewel thieves has escaped from a Swiss jail.

Milan Poparic, serving time for his role in a 2009 robbery, broke out of a prison in Orbe in western Switzerland on Thursday with a fellow inmate.

Two accomplices used a van and two ladders to enable the prisoners to get out of the prison enclosure.

They fired multiple rounds from automatic weapons to prevent prison guards approaching. No-one was injured.

Police have launched a search for the missing men, and have alerted border guards and the French police. The prison is close to the French border.

The international gang of jewel thieves, many of whom come from the former Yugoslavia, became known for the creative way in which they went about their crimes.

They got their name after British police found a diamond ring in a tub of face cream, reminiscent of a scene in the 1963 comedy film The Pink Panther.

A prison service spokesman told the Tribune de Geneve that he thought the gang was clearly involved in the breakout.

Poparic, who is 34, was sentenced to six years and eight months for a crime committed in Neuchatel, the paper reports.

The other prisoner who escaped was a convicted Swiss kidnapper called Adrian Albrecht.

According to the Tribune de Geneve, 52-year-old Albrecht had previously escaped from the same jail in 1992.

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