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Rédoine Faïd: French helicopter jailbreak gangster captured

A head and shoulders picture of Redoine Faid in a white shirt and suit Image copyright IBO/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock
Image caption Redoine Faid (pictured in 2010)

Rédoine Faïd, a French gangster who broke out of jail using a hijacked helicopter in July, has been recaptured.

The country's most wanted fugitive, he was detained north of Paris, reportedly with his brother and two men.

Faïd, 46, is a fan of gangster films, which he credits with teaching him how to pull off raids.

He was first arrested in 1998 for armed robbery. The 1 July jailbreak was his second and most dramatic escape.

He was sprung from a prison in Réau, south-east of Paris, by three heavily armed men who broke into the visitors' room. They then bundled him into a helicopter flown by a flying instructor who had been taken hostage.

Faïd had been serving a 25-year sentence for masterminding a botched robbery in which a policewoman was killed in 2010.

He was recaptured in the early hours of Wednesday in the town of Creil.

French Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told Europe 1 radio: "We're going to put him in a high-security facility where he will be watched extremely closely."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Redoine Faïd was arrested overnight in his hometown, Creil

The arrest came hours after Interior Minister Gérard Collomb - the country's top law-enforcement official - resigned to run for mayor in Lyon, France's second-largest city.

The move is regarded as a fresh setback for President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity has fallen sharply in recent weeks. The interior ministry will be temporarily headed by Prime Minister Édouard Philippe.

Who is Rédoine Faïd?

Born in 1972, he grew up in Creil. In the 1990s he ran a gang involved in armed robbery and extortion.

He has said Hollywood movies, such as the Al Pacino thriller Scarface, inspired his lifestyle and some of his schemes.

During a 1997 attack on a security van, he used and his accomplices used ice-hockey goalkeeper masks, mimicking Robert de Niro's gang in the film Heat.

He later said he had watched that movie "hundreds of times" on DVD and once told its director, Michael Mann, at a Paris film festival: "You were my technical adviser."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Redoine Faid was placed on Interpol's most-wanted list after his 2013 escape

His fame was helped by a 2009 book outlining his younger days on the streets of Paris and his descent into the life of a professional criminal.

That earned him the nickname "L'Écrivain" - or "the writer" - among French police.

Timeline of a jailbreaker

  • Faïd's cycle of imprisonment and escape began with his arrest in 1998 for armed robbery and bank theft.

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