Charter Plane Grounded in France for Human Trafficking Investigation Takes off for India
A charter plane that was grounded in France for a human trafficking investigation has departed for India with 276 Indian passengers aboard.
The Flight Takes Off After Four Days of Being Grounded
A charter plane that was grounded in France for a human trafficking investigation departed Monday for India with 276 Indian passengers aboard. The passengers, who had been heading to Nicaragua, were instead blocked inside a rural French airport for four days.
According to the regional administration, 276 of the original 303 passengers were en route to Mumbai, while 25 others requested asylum in France. Those who remained were transferred to a special zone in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport for asylum-seekers. Among the passengers grounded in France were a 21-month-old child and several unaccompanied minors.
Two Passengers Detained and Released as Part of Investigation
The remaining two passengers were detained as part of a human trafficking investigation but were released Monday after appearing before a judge. The judge named them as 'assisted witnesses' to the case, which allows for further investigation to determine whether charges will be filed or the case will be dropped.
French authorities are still working to determine the aim of the original flight. A judicial inquiry has been opened into activities by an organized criminal group helping foreigners enter or stay in a country illegally.
Airport Turned Into Makeshift Courtroom for Emergency Hearings
The Vatry airport, where the plane was grounded, turned into a makeshift courtroom on Sunday as judges, lawyers, and interpreters carried out emergency hearings to determine the next steps for the passengers. Some lawyers expressed concern over the handling of the situation and the passengers' rights, suggesting that authorities may have overreacted to the anonymous tip that led to the grounding of the plane.
The Indian Embassy expressed its gratitude to French officials for ensuring the safe return of the passengers. French authorities worked through Christmas Eve and Christmas morning to finalize the formalities that allowed the passengers to leave France.