France: Rape convict arrested after escaping during day trip to the zoo

By John Cody
4 Min Read

French authorities have recaptured 43-year-old Ahmed B., an inmate in the prison, who used a trip to the zoo to escape from custody after spending six days on the lam.

Last week, an inmate known as Ahmed B. took advantage of a short moment of solitude in the park toilets to flee, right in front of the Valence prison officers. The inmate had been on the run for almost a week before being apprehended near his partner’s home in the Lyon region of the country on Monday.

Despite Ahmed B. being convicted for raping a woman at gun point and sentenced to 15 years in prison, and already escaping from prison in 2017, the man was approved to attend a “cultural” day trip to a zoo, ostensibly a location where children are routinely located.

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French police celebrated the man’s successful apprehension, according to French newspaper Le Figaro,

“His arrest is the result of a heavy investigation work by the gendarmerie services of the Grenoble Research Section, in joint referral with the Drôme Group, and this, under the direction of the Parquet of Valence,” explained the interim prosecutor, Céline Nainani, in a press release. The magistrate clarified that the arrest occurred with the support of specialized intervention services: the GIGN branch in Dijon and the GOS (Groupe Observation Surveillance) in Lyon.

Investigations are ongoing into whether of not the inmate benefited from outside help during his escape.

Long criminal history

Ahmed B. has been incarcerated since Nov. 23, 2005. He had entered the central prison of Valence on May 19, 2021 to continue serving various sentences for, among other things, attacking both property and people, offenses related to narcotics, and driving offenses.

By 2020, he had also completed a 15-year prison sentence issued on June 20, 2008, by the Rhône Assize Court for acts of rape committed under the threat of a weapon and extortion. He still had to serve several prison sentences for misdemeanor offenses and was not scheduled to be released until May 31, 2025.

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In addition, Ahmed B. was responsible for a number of “incidents” while in jail and attempted to escape in 2017. Back then, he was quickly arrested and re-incarcerated. Since then, he had not benefited from any sentence adjustment or release measure.

“For several months during his incarceration in Valence, the prison administration had noted a positive dynamic in his behavior such as training, compensation for victims, registration on the waiting list to work,” detailed the prosecution.

Recently, Ahmed B. made two requests for leave — one to meet an employer, and the other for cultural reasons involving a visit to the zoo. Prison officials refused the first, but the second had received a favorable opinion from all the members of the prison administration commission, and the sentence enforcement judge granted the request. The man instead used his zoo outing to escape from prison.

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