Plane carrying Indian passengers to leave France after trafficking probe

Airbus A340 is expected to leave airport on Monday after French Civil Aviation Authority secures approval.

The Airbus A340 operated by Romania-based Legend Airlines is expected to leave Vatry airport on Monday [Francois Nascimbeni/ AFP]

A plane carrying more than 300 Indian passengers that has been detained at an airport in France since Thursday has been cleared to leave after a probe into human trafficking claims, French authorities have said.

French prosecutors on Sunday gave the green light for the plane to leave Vatry airport, located 150km (95 miles) east of Paris, after questioning passengers for two days about allegations they may be victims of human trafficking.

The Airbus A340 is expected to leave on Monday after the French Civil Aviation Authority secures final approval for departure, with a lawyer for Romania-based Legend Airlines saying most of the stranded passengers would be returning to India.

Two passengers have been detained since Friday as authorities investigate whether they travelled with a different purpose than the other passengers and “under what conditions and with what objectives”.

Several other passengers have requested asylum in France, according to the local government.

The Nicaragua-bound plane was held after stopping to refuel at Vatry en route from Fujairah Airport in the United Arab Emirates, after authorities received an anonymous tip that it may be carrying trafficking victims.

The passengers of the flight, including a 21-month-old child, have since then been confined at the airport, where local government authorities said beds, toilets and showers were installed for their stay.

After police grounded the aircraft, authorities turned the airport into a makeshift courtroom as judges, lawyers and translators filled the terminal to conduct emergency hearings to determine whether the passengers could be held any longer.

The Indian Embassy in Paris posted on X on Saturday that consular staff were working with French authorities for an “early resolution of the situation”.

Francois Procureur, the head of the Châlons-en-Champagne Bar Association, told local television that the hearings were “unprecedented”.

“I’m surprised at how things unfolded in the waiting area,” Procureur told BFM television. “People should have been informed of their rights and, clearly, that was not the case.”

Source: News Agencies