updated 12/26/2006 6:17:22 PM ET 2006-12-26T23:17:22

French police have arrested a bank robber who spent 20 years on the run after taking part in one of the country's biggest hold-ups.

Miloud Hai, 48, was one of a group of about a dozen armed men who robbed a branch of the Bank of France in the western town of Saint Nazaire in July 1986, escaping with some $17.57 million.

The hold-up, for which Hai was convicted and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in 1992, still stands as one of the biggest in French history.

Hai, an Algerian national, was arrested early Friday as he was leaving a building in the north of Paris, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

"He was very, very careful for a very long time," the spokesman said.

Police said he had spent years moving frequently and leaving home in the early morning to evade possible raids.

He was identified following an investigation into an armed robbery of a real estate agent's office in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine in which police believe he was involved.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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