Plane with Indians grounded in France over ‘human trafficking’ lands in Mumbai

After being held in France for four days due to suspected human trafficking concerns, a charter plane with 276 passengers, mostly Indians, has finally reached Mumbai. The flight, operated by a Romanian company and en route to Nicaragua, was detained at Vatry airport near France. Taking off from Vatry airport around 2:30 pm local time, the plane landed in Mumbai shortly after 4 am on Tuesday. The extended grounding has prompted questions about the nature of the suspicions and the circumstances leading to the delay.

The charter flight, originating from Dubai with 303 passengers, was grounded at Vatry airport, 150 km east of Paris, on Thursday due to suspected human trafficking. French authorities stated that 25 individuals, including two minors, expressed a desire to apply for asylum and remained on French soil. Two others, brought before a judge, were released and placed under assisted witness status, as reported by a French news channel.

On Sunday, Vatry airport transformed into a makeshift courtroom where four French judges interrogated the detained passengers as part of an investigation initiated by the Paris prosecutor\’s office into suspicions of human trafficking. French media reports indicated that among the passengers, some spoke Hindi, while others spoke Tamil.

Following the authorization for the plane to depart, the French judges opted to cancel the hearings of the passengers on Sunday, citing irregularities in the procedural process.

On Monday, police custody measures for two passengers of the flight were lifted. These individuals had been taken into custody on Friday under suspicion of involvement in a potentially illegal immigration ring. The initial detention, extended on Saturday for up to 48 hours, was part of an investigation into aiding the illegal entry and stay of foreigners in the territory. The Public Prosecutor\’s Office clarified that this investigation is focused on organized gang activity related to facilitating illegal entry and stay, as well as participation in a criminal association.

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