France grounded a plane bound for Nicaragua with 303 Indian passengers. The suspicion is that it involves “human trafficking.”
France stopped a chartered flight to Nicaragua, carrying 303 Indian passengers, on a Friday for a legal investigation. The plane, owned by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, came from the United Arab Emirates, landing at Vatry airport in eastern France for a technical stopover. This airport, 150 kilometers from Paris, is mostly used by budget airlines.
They stopped the plane based on an anonymous tip that some passengers might be “victims of human trafficking,” according to the Paris prosecutor. Two individuals are now in custody, being questioned by a unit that deals with organized crime.
Liliana Bakayoko, claiming to represent Legend Airlines legally, said the company did nothing wrong and is cooperating fully with French authorities. However, she suggested they might take legal action if prosecutors press charges.
India acted fast, getting consular access to the passengers and sending officials to investigate their well-being.
“The French authorities told us about a plane with 303 people, mostly of Indian origin, going from Dubai to Nicaragua, detained during a technical halt at a French airport. The embassy team got consular access. We’re looking into the situation and ensuring the passengers’ well-being,” said the Indian Embassy in France in a post on X.
Reports from the AFP news agency suggest suspicions that the passengers might have planned to go to Central America, possibly trying to enter the United States or Canada illegally.
After landing in France, the passengers were initially kept on the plane but later released and given beds in the terminal building. The reception hall at Vatry airport turned into a waiting area with individual beds for better conditions.
The 303 Indians spent the night at the airport, and there’s no update on when they can continue their journey. French law allows border police to hold a foreigner for up to four days if they can’t proceed to their destination. It can be extended to eight days with a judge’s approval, and under exceptional circumstances, up to 26 days.