Alleged human trafficking incident sparks questions, 303 Indians under scrutiny in France

Indian passengers aboard Nicaragua-Dubai flight undergo questioning as part of a probe into human trafficking. National Herald pieces together the latest developments

Representative image (photo: DW)
Representative image (photo: DW)

Aditya Anand

In a developing story that unfolded on Thursday, 21 December, a flight bound for Nicaragua from Dubai, carrying 303 Indian passengers, was grounded in France on suspicions of human trafficking as French authorities took swift action against Romanian company Legend Airlines, which operated the flight, based on an anonymous tip. As the investigation unfolds, National Herald answers some questions about the circumstances surrounding the incident, and information available.

Q1. What led to the grounding of the flight in France?

The flight, operated by Legend Airlines and carrying 303 Indian passengers, was grounded in France over suspicions of human trafficking. French authorities received an anonymous tip, prompting them to intervene and initiate an investigation.

Q2: What is the current status of the passengers and the aircraft?

All passengers are being questioned by special investigators, and two individuals are in custody pending further examination. The plane, an A340 operated by Legend Airlines, remains grounded at Vatry airport, 150 km east of Paris. Upon landing, passengers were initially kept in the aircraft. Later, they were transferred to the main hall of the airport, where individual beds were provided for an overnight stay on Thursday. The entire airport was cordoned off by police during this process.

Q3. Why are all those aboard the flight being questioned, and what is the significance of the two individuals taken into custody?

All passengers aboard the flight are undergoing questioning as part of the investigation into suspected human trafficking. The Paris prosecutor's office stated that special investigators are actively interviewing everyone on board to gather information and assess the situation.

The decision to take two individuals into custody is based on the need for further examination, suggesting that these individuals may have raised suspicions or require additional scrutiny in connection with the ongoing investigation. The specifics of their involvement or any potential charges will likely be revealed as the investigation progresses.

Q4: How has the Indian Embassy in France responded to the situation?

The Indian Embassy in Paris has been informed by French authorities about the detention of the flight. Consular access has been obtained, and the embassy is actively investigating the situation while ensuring the well-being of the passengers.

Q5: What has Legend Airlines said about the incident?

Legend Airlines is yet to comment on the incident. However, Liliana Bakayoko, identified as a Legend Airlines lawyer, stated on France's BFM television that the company denies any role in potential human trafficking. Bakayoko mentioned that a customer chartered the plane and was responsible for verifying the identity documents of each passenger.

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