Charter Plane Detained in France Safely Arrives in India After Human Trafficking Probe

Charter Plane Detained in France Safely Arrives in India After Human Trafficking Probe

MUMBAI, India —A chartered plane that faced a human trafficking investigation and was detained in France has now safely arrived in India with 276 passengers on board. The individuals, initially bound for Nicaragua, found themselves stranded in a rural French airport for four days due to suspicions raised by an anonymous tip. The Legend Airlines A340 aircraft, carrying 303 passenger from Middle East, made a refueling stop at Vatry Airport in Champagne, where French authorities intervened.

The passengers, who endured an unexpected holiday ordeal, were provided with accommodations, meals, and showers during their stay at Vatry Airport. Emergency hearings were conducted on-site with judges, lawyers, and interpreters, determining that the plane could leave. Of the original passengers, 276 chose to continue their journey to India, while 25 sought asylum in France, including five children.

The asylum-seekers were transferred to a designated area in Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport for processing. Notably, two passengers initially detained in connection with the human trafficking investigation were released after appearing before a judge, designated as 'assisted witnesses' under French law.

The Paris prosecutor's office is conducting a judicial inquiry into the activities of an organized criminal group assisting foreigners in entering or staying in a country illegally. While the specific charges remain unclear, authorities are working to establish the purpose of the original flight. The U.S. connection is hinted at, considering the surge in Indians crossing the Mexico-U.S. border, but no official comments have been made on this aspect.

There are concerns raised by some lawyers during the hearings, suggesting that authorities may have overreacted to the initial anonymous tip, impacting the rights of the passengers. Legend Airlines maintains its innocence, asserting no involvement in potential human trafficking. The Indian Embassy expressed gratitude to French officials for facilitating the safe return of the Indians.

The incident brings attention to the complexities of international air travel, as passengers, including a 21-month-old child and unaccompanied minors, faced uncertainty and legal proceedings. The ultimate destination and purpose of the original flight are still under investigation, with French authorities aiming to uncover any potential criminal activities related to human trafficking or illegal entry.

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