dimanche 26 juillet 2009

Brugge - Prison escape using helicopter

The escapees fled the prison, near the city of Bruges in Belgium, on Thursday.

They then flew to the town of Aalter, where they seized a black Mercedes from a female driver and robbed a service station before heading for the Belgian coast, media reports said.

One of the accomplices who flew the helicopter was left behind at the prison, apparently due to a lack of room in the helicopter, the Belga news agency said.

No-one was hurt in the incident, which did not involve prisoners from the high-security wing.

But all three escapees - bank robber Ashraf Sekkaki, Mohammed Johry and Abdel Had Kahjary Mulloul - are all repeat offenders, prosecutors in Bruges said.

They include one of Belgium's most dangerous criminals, Ashraf Sekkaki, who has more than 16 convictions for violence, including kidnappings for ransom.

It is not the first time a helicopter has been used for an escape in Belgium.

In October 2007, Nordin Benallal, a self-styled "escape king" with convictions for armed robbery and carjacking, broke out of Ittre prison south of Brussels after armed accomplices landed there in a hijacked helicopter.

The helicopter was immediately rushed by other prisoners and crashed.

Benallal and his cohorts then seized two prison warders as hostages and fled in a car parked nearby.

He was recaptured in the Netherlands three days later.

Earlier the same year, Frenchman Erik Ferdinand escaped in a hijacked helicopter from Lantin prison near Liege.

He was arrested several weeks later in Italy.

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