French gangster makes audacious prison escape

Dylan Stableford
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It sounds like something out of a Michael Mann movie.

A French inmate made a daring escape from prison on Saturday, holding four guards at gunpoint and using explosives to blast his way out, authorities there say.

Redoine Faid, who spent 10 years in prison for attacking armored trucks and had been facing 30 more years in the 2010 death of a police officer, detonated explosives to blast through at least five doors of the prison in the northern town of Sequedin, set fire to a getaway car in the city of Lille and fled in a second vehicle. No one was injured in the escape, prison officials said.

A Europe-wide warrant was issued for the 40-year-old fugitive by Interpol, which said Faid should be considered armed and dangerous.

The manhunt will initially focus on Belgium, France's Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said, and extend to 26 European countries.

“It happened very quickly," an official told the New York Daily News. "It was clearly very well organized—we are still busy putting the facts together."

Faid's lawyer said he had no clue his client had been planning a getaway.

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"I wasn't surprised when I heard about his escape, although there were no signs that anything was in the works," lawyer Jean-Louis Pelletier told Agence France-Press.

"He is remarkably intelligent, and he is using his intellect to serve his ambitions," Pelletier told BFM-TV. "And he cannot stand being imprisoned anymore."

It's unclear how Faid acquired the explosives. A prison official told CNN that overpopulation in the Sequedin prison was a contributing factor in his escape.

Faid was arrested in 1998 for a string of armed robberies and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He was released after serving 10, publishing an autobiography—"Robber: From Suburbs to Organized Crime"—in 2010. According to his autobiography, Faid was inspired by Robert De Niro's character in the 1995 crime epic “Heat,” directed by Mann, donning a hockey mask like De Niro during armed robberies.

He also likened himself to a modern-day Jacques Mesrine, a notorious French gangster who reveled in press coverage of his daring robberies and prison escapes in the 1970s.

In 2011, Faid was arrested on a parole violation and was awaiting trial for his involvement in the killing of a 26-year-old police officer in a 2010 attack in Villiers-sur-Marne.