Mohamed Amra: Who is 'The Fly,' the French prisoner who escaped ...

15 May 2024

CNN  — 

A rare episode of violence disrupted the peaceful region of Normandy in northern France on Tuesday when gunmen ambushed a prison convoy to spring a notorious prison inmate known as “The Fly.”

Mohamed Amra - Figure 1
Photo CNN

The attack took place while prisoner Mohamed Amra, 30, was being transported from a court hearing in Rouen to a nearby prison in Évreux, and has led to a massive manhunt.

The prison convoy was driving on a motorway when it came under heavy gunfire, resulting in the deaths of two prison guards, while three others were seriously injured.

Here’s what we know so far about the escaped inmate, as a search involving hundreds of police officers enters its second day.

Mohamed Amra, nicknamed “La Mouche” or “The Fly,” is “very well known” to the French justice system having sustained a total of 13 convictions, according to Paris state prosecutor Laure Beccuau.

A judicial court in Marseilles is currently investigating Amra for a string of offenses including complicity in premeditated murder in an organized gang, complicity in kidnapping and the taking of hostages, according to Beccuau.

CNN’s affiliate in France, BFMTV, reports that the 30-year-old is a suspected narcotics boss. Amra’s lawyer, Hugues Vivier, disputes this, saying there had been nothing to alert authorities to his client having a “particularly dangerous” profile.

Mohamed Amra - Figure 2
Photo CNN

Beccuau told journalists that Amra’s criminal record does not contain any convictions for drug-related offenses.

Most of his convictions relate to incidents of theft with aggravated offenses, Beccuau said, adding that he had been incarcerated in various facilities since January 2022.

On May 10, Amra was found guilty on the charge of burglary by a court in Évreux, resulting in a prison sentence of 18 months.

He is also under investigation in Marseille for a kidnap which led to a death, Beccuau said.

As part of his statement last night, Beccuau said that Amra had been placed under security level three - meaning he was not a high-security prisoner. This is why only five officers were involved in escorting him from the court back to prison.

Amra, who was born in the city of Rouen in northern France, was first convicted by authorities in October 2009 aged 15 years old, according to Beccuau.

It is understood that Amra had attempted to escape from Évreux prison two days prior to the ambush. Speaking to BFMTV, Emmanuel Baudin, a union leader of prison guards, said: “We know that he tried to escape two or three days ago by sawing off the bars of his cell. So colleagues moved him to a disciplinary unit.”

Mohamed Amra - Figure 3
Photo CNN

In an interview on French radio, Amra’s mother said she broke down crying when she heard about the deadly ambush.

“I broke down, I cried. Really I wasn’t well. How can lives be taken like that? It makes me sick … It’s serious,” she told France’s RTL radio network.

A massive manhunt has been launched to find Amra and the gunmen who carried out the prison break.

Interpol put out a red notice – a request for worldwide law enforcement officials to locate and provisionally arrest that person – for Amra. It is not, as Interpol points out, an international arrest warrant.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on X he has mobilized the national gendarmerie and “several hundred” police officers for the manhunt.

French Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti told reporters that the incident was the first time a French prison employee has died while working since 1992.

French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X that “every effort is being made to find the perpetrators of this crime so that justice can be done in the name of the French people.”

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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