World

Redoine Faid and other unbelievable prison escapes

Armed police surround helicopter being loaded into a large vehicle Image copyright EPA
Image caption A 3,000-strong manhunt is underway after a helicopter was found abandoned

Sunday's elaborate prison escape in northern France sounds like fiction, and for good reason. Redoine Faid - who escaped in a helicopter after an armed diversion - is reportedly a fan of Hollywood crime films.

Faid has said his lifestyle has been modelled on gangsters played by Robert de Niro and Al Pacino. He was serving a 25-year-sentence over his part in a failed robbery in which a police officer was killed in 2010.

He found notoriety in France after escaping prison for six weeks in 2013.

But Faid is far from the first prisoner to break out in such a dramatic fashion. Here are some other extraordinary tales of escape.

Other airborne plans

There have been quite a few attempted escapes by helicopter, including several in France. The yard where the helicopter landed on Sunday was the only part of the prison without special anti-aircraft netting, AFP news agency reports.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Paleokostas twice used a helicopter to escape from prison in Greece

In Greece one convict used a helicopter to escape from a high-security prison not once, but twice - in 2006 and 2009. He remains at large.

Drones are also becoming a security risk for prisons around the world - reports say they may have been used in advance of Faid's breakout.

In 2017, convicted kidnapper Jimmy Causey was able to escape from a South Carolina prison using wire cutters and cell-phones that had been dropped in.

A sticky ruse

Twelve inmates escaped from a county jail in Alabama in 2017 after using peanut butter to trick a guard into unlocking a door that led outside.

The men confused a new member of staff by smearing the spread over a number on an exit door.

The local sheriff admitted the plan had been "very smart thinking", but all of the men soon ended back in custody.

Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman

One of the best-known jail-breakers in history is Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. The drug lord has given two Mexican maximum-security prisons the slip.

In 2001 he was reportedly smuggled out of custody inside a laundry basket - though doubt has been cast on this account. He evaded re-capture for another 13 years.

After being sent back to prison, he escaped again through a hole in a shower stall in 2015. A mile-long tunnel system had been built underneath, complete with lighting, ventilation and railing for a modified motorbike

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Guzman, after his 2016 re-capture, being transported to Mexico City

To the further embarrassment of Mexican authorities, El Chapo's shower disappearing act was captured on CCTV.

After several months on the run - and an infamous interview with Hollywood actor Sean Penn - Guzman was eventually recaptured in Sinaloa state.

There were rumours he had escaped again in 2016 - which turned out to be false. He is now in US custody and awaiting trial on drug charges after being extradited.

Foiled by high-heels

In 2012 drug trafficker Ronaldo Silva, 39, was reportedly able to sneak out of a prison in Brazil by swapping clothes with his wife during a visit.

Image copyright Brazil Civil Police
Image caption The jail's director reportedly said Silva's wife had left wearing male shorts, but denied being in on the plan

After reportedly shaving and applying lipstick, he was re-captured after being spotted struggling to walk in ill-fitting heels by a nearby bus stop.

Photographs emerged of him wearing the outfit, including a wig, after being brought back into jail.

'Korean Houdini'

Choi Gap-bok became infamous in South Korea after escaping a detention cell in Daegu province in 2012.

A known yoga expert, he got out by oiling himself up and squeezing through a 15cm by 45cm (6x18-inch) window meant for food.

Investigators said the 115lb (52kg) and 5ft 6 in (1.7m) man escaped in less than a minute by "moving flexibly like a octopus".

The 50-year-old was arrested again after six days on the run. He was then locked up in a cell with a smaller, inescapable, food slot.

Escape from Alcatraz

Probably the best-known prison escape of all happened near San Francisco in 1962.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The famous 1962 escape was turned into a Hollywood film in 1979 starring Clint Eastwood

Billed as the ultimate maximum-security prison in the country of its day, Alcatraz sat on a rock in the middle of a frigid San Francisco Bay, and was fortified with strict rules and guarding techniques.

It was billed as so secure that prisoners who had attempted escape elsewhere were sent there as punishment. Despite this, there were over a dozen break-out attempts by inmates during its three-decade tenure as a federal facility.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The men hid their escape routes and left fake heads behind in their beds

In June 1962 a routine morning cell check revealed that brothers John and Clarence Anglin and another prisoner, Frank Morris, were not in their beds.

They had made dummy replicas and escaped through air vents and an unguarded utility corridor, before leaving the island on a DIY raft.

What exactly happened next remains a mystery, and has been the subject of deep speculation ever since.

The FBI eventually concluded that the men had probably drowned while crossing, but the bureau's website page on the case still requests public information on the three men.

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