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Longest-serving French inmate wins parole

Photo courtesy of prisoners group Ban Public

Philippe El Shennawy (pictured), a French convict infamous for being the longest-serving prisoner alive in France and a string of escape attempts, will be released on parole on Friday.

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“It is a big relief,” his lawyer told reporters on Wednesday, adding that the convict would have to wear an ankle bracelet for a period of two years. “He is going to live with his wife. He is very, very happy.”

Short in comparison to prison sentences in other countries, the 38 years El Shennawy spent behind bars made him the longest-serving inmate alive in France.

In France, prison sentences even for the worst crimes are usually limited to 30 years of incarceration, with inmates often paroled or freed after that time.

El Shennawy, now 60, was found guilty of robbing a Paris bank and taking hostages in 1977, crimes he has always denied committing.

He was released in 1990, but wound up back in jail after breaking the rules of his parole.

He took flight in 1997 and again in 2004, hiding from police for months, during which time he committed several armed robberies before being apprehended.

He also made headlines after hunger strikes and challenging the French justice system.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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