Belgian serial jailbreaker escapes for fourth time

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BRUSSELS, Oct 29 (Reuters) A Belgian inmate made a dramatic escape from jail for the fourth time after his armed accomplices landed in the prison grounds in a hijacked helicopter, prosecutors said today.

Nordin Benallal, self-styled ''escape king'' with several convictions for armed robbery and carjacking, has previously run from a prison van, walked out of jail wearing a wig and sunglasses and scaled a prison wall with a rope ladder.

Yesterday, Benallal's accomplices hijacked a helicopter near the prison in Ittre, some 30 km south of Brussels.

On landing, the helicopter was crowded by other prisoners, making takeoff impossible and causing it to crash. The pilot and a prisoner were slightly injured.

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

It marked the second time this year that a prisoner has escaped from a Belgian jail using a helicopter. In April, two men posing as tourists hijacked a helicopter and flew into the yard of a prison near Liege, in the east of the country, to pick up an inmate.

REUTERS SKB BD1833

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