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303 Indians travelling in Nicaragua-bound plane grounded in France over human trafficking concerns, 2 detained

2023-12-23 04:32:18

Two people have been taken into custody in connection with an incident where a Nicaragua-bound plane carrying 303 Indian passengers was grounded in France over suspected “human trafficking”, local authorities said on Friday.

According to the prosecutor’s office, officials received a tip-off that the flight was carrying people who could be victims of human trafficking. Citing a ‘Le Monde’ newspaper report, news agency PTI reported that national anti-organised crime unit JUNALCO had taken over the investigation.

Here are some of the top developments of the incident:

  • The A340, operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines, “remained grounded on the tarmac at Vatry airport following its landing” on Thursday, according to the prefecture in the northeastern department of Marne. The Vatry airport is located 150 kilometres east of Paris and serves mostly budget airlines.

  • The plane, which took off from Dubai, had been due to refuel and was carrying 303 Indian nationals who had probably been working in the UAE, the ‘Le Monde’ report said. Investigators were questioning all the people who were on board and the airport was cordoned off by the police.

  • The passengers were shifted into the main terminal building of the Vatry airport where individual cots were set up for them to stay overnight on Thursday, the Marne region administration told the French newspaper. A source close to the case said the passengers may have planned to travel to Central America to illegally enter the US or Canada.

  • Another source familiar with the case told news agency AFP that the minors were among the 303 passengers. The prosecutor’s office said identity checks were being carried out on the passengers and the cabin crew. An investigation was also on to check the conditions in which the passengers were being transported and the purpose of their journey.

  • A lawyer for Legend Airlines, Liliana Bakayoko, told AFP that the firm believed it did not do anything wrong “and is at the disposal of the French authorities”. She, however, said the airline would be forced to take legal action if the prosecutors filed charges.

Published By:

Prateek Chakraborty

Published On:

Dec 23, 2023

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