Friday, September 08, 2023
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France's top jailbreaker Redouine Faid aka getaway King says he is 'freedom addict'

Web Desk
French jailbreaker Redouine Faid. — AFP
French jailbreaker Redouine Faid. — AFP

Redouine Faid, a convicted French burglar notorious for brazen jailbreaks said on Friday at his trial over his latest escape via helicopter that he couldn´t help himself as he was "a freedom addict".

The daring 51-year-old French burglar admitted that he was "a freedom addict" and couldn't stop himself in a court on Friday over his most recent escape by helicopter

Redouine Faid, nicknamed the "getaway king", is in the dock for escaping prison aboard a hijacked helicopter in 2018 when he was serving time for burglary.

Accomplices landed the chopper in the courtyard of Reau prison, southeast of Paris. While one of them held a gun to the pilot´s head, two others stepped out of the helicopter launching smoke grenades.

One of them then kept watch, armed with a Kalashnikov assault rifle, while another -- wearing a fake police armband -- used a circular power saw to cut open the gate to the prison cell corridor where Faid and his brother Brahim were being held.

Witnesses later said that Faid "very calmly" walked out of his cell to the waiting helicopter, which took off without any shots being fired. The entire operation took 10 minutes. Police later found the helicopter abandoned.

He was re-captured three months later, hiding in the home of a friend of a relative.

Faid, who broke out of jail once before in 2013, taking wardens hostage and blowing up the prison gate, faces life imprisonment for the repeat offence.

In court Friday, he apologised to the members of his family who were prosecuted for helping him escape, including his brother Rachid, 65, accused of masterminding the helicopter prison break, AFP reported.

"I would like to ask forgiveness of my brother Rachid and members of my family," Faid said, some of whom were in court despite having done "nothing wrong".

He was aware of "the damage done by that call to freedom", Faid said. "It´s an addiction that I recognise and that consumes me, and that I cannot cure."

Faid said he was "not trying to trivialise what happened" and that he wanted to ask the helicopter pilot, not present in court, for forgiveness.

He has a history of robberies involving armoured vehicles and hostage-taking and at the time of the jailbreak was already serving a 25-year sentence for a botched heist in which a policewoman got killed.

Eleven suspected accomplices, including members of his family, are on trial alongside Faid, charged with helping him in the escape and during the subsequent three months it took police to catch him.

Access to the courtroom was under special protection on Tuesday and mobile phone signals scrambled, officials said.

Reau prison has since installed security lines over the courtyard to prevent any more jailbreaks by air.