Anonymous Tip, 'Human Trafficking': Why France Grounded Plane With 300 Indians

French police have taken two men into custody day after grounding a Nicaragua-bound plane carrying more than 300 Indian passengers over suspected "human trafficking". Indian authorities have also reached the spot and are investigating the situation.

Anonymous Tip, 'Human Trafficking': Why France Grounded Plane With 300 Indians
  1. France grounded a charter flight headed to Nicaragua carrying 303 Indian passengers on Friday to conduct a judicial investigation.The Airbus A340, belonging to Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, had flown in from the United Arab Emirates, and had landed at Vatry airport in eastern France for a technical stopover. The airport is 150 kms from Paris, and is mostly used by budget airllines.
  2. Authorities stepped in and grounded the plane after an anonymous tip-off that some of the passengers on board were "victims of human trafficking", the Paris prosecutor said.
  3. Two men have been detained and are being questioned by a unit specialising in organised crime.
  4. Liliana Bakayoko, who said she was a lawyer for Legend Airlines, told AFP the company believed it had done nothing wrong, had committed no offence "and is at the disposal of the French authorities". But the airline would take legal action if the prosecutors file charges, she added.
  5. India has been granted consular access to those onboard the flight and officials have reached the spot to investigate and ensure the well-being of the passengers.
  6. "French authorities informed us of a plane with 303 people, mostly of Indian origin, from Dubai to Nicaragua detained on a technical halt at a French airport. The embassy team has reached and obtained consular access. We are investigating the situation, also ensuring the well-being of the passengers," the Indian Embassy in France said in a post on X.
  7. According to news agency AFP, officials suspect that the passengers might have planned to travel to Central America in order to attempt illegal entry into the United States or Canada.
  8. After landing in France, they were first kept on the aircraft, but then let out and given individual beds in the terminal building. "The reception hall at Vatry airport was transformed into a waiting area with individual beds to provide passengers with the best possible reception conditions," the prefect's office said.
  9. The 303 Indians spent the night at the airport and officials are yet to give an update on when they will be allowed to fly out.
  10. Border police can initially hold a foreign national for up to four days if they land in France and are prevented from travelling on to their intended destination. French law allows for that period to be extended to eight days if a judge approves it, then another eight days in exceptional circumstances, up to a maximum of 26 days.