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France's 'getaway king' declines to appeal breakout conviction

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07 November 2023

Paris (AFP) -

A career criminal and self-described 'freedom addict' who escaped a French jail in a hijacked helicopter will not appeal his 14-year sentence for the escape, prosecutors told AFP Tuesday.

Redoine Faid, 51, was convicted following a two-month trial over the spectacular 2018 breakout from the jail in Reau, 50 kilometres (30 miles) southeast of Paris.

He had been arrested after three months on the run.

Ten other defendants received sentences from a year's suspended jail term to ten years.

Only one, Corsican Jacques Mariani, has appealed his jailing for two years, prosecutors said.

He was found guilty of aiding Faid in a previous 2017 breakout scheme, which both men deny.

Faid's brother Rachid, 65, who took a helicopter pilot hostage and forced him to land in front of the visiting rooms of Reau prison, got 10 years.

Faid's accomplices used smoke bombs and angle grinders to break through doors and whisk him to the waiting chopper, to the applause of other prisoners.

A third brother, 63-year-old Brahim, who was inside the visiting rooms with Redoine at the time, swore during the trial that he had not known of the plan.

At the trial, Redoine waxed lyrical as he recounted the escape, speaking of a 'ray of sunshine' on his face, the 'feeling of freedom' and 'the closed door which opens to infinity'.

But the crimes had been 'exceptionally serious', involving military-style weapons, months of preparation and endangerment of other human lives, judges wrote in a document detailing the reasoning behind their sentences seen by AFP.

Redoine Faid, a 'recidivist' previously convicted of 'serious harm to people, kidnappings and armed robberies', had been 'totally determined to get himself out of the prison environment', they added.

A psychological expert report found he had a 'dissocial personality', a 'need for adulation' and 'tendency towards megalomania', the judges wrote.

He showed 'contempt for rules and social restrictions' and a 'lack of learning from past punishments'.

Faid had been serving a 25-year term over a botched 2010 heist in which a policewoman was killed, although he claims her death was accidental.

Combined with that sentence and his time for a 2013 breakout, he may now remain behind bars until 2060.