France halts Romanian aircraft carrying 303 Indian nationals on suspicion of human trafficking. The Legend Airlines plane was carrying 303 Indian citizens, including 11 unaccompanied minors, at Vatry airport in France.
The aircraft, owned by Romania-based Legend Airlines, was en route from the United Arab Emirates to Nicaragua, making a stopover at Vatry airport, approximately 150 kilometers east of Paris, for supplies, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
French authorities impounded the plane on December 21 following an anonymous tip.
The flight was chartered by a non-European Union registered company, and Legend Airlines did not handle ticket sales for this specific journey, stated the airline’s lawyer, Liliana Bakayoko, in an interview with CNN affiliate BFMTV on Saturday.
Bakayoko said they questioned and freely released all cabin crew members. She added that the chartering company had been a loyal client of Legend Airlines, chartering several flights previously.
Refusing to disclose the chartering company, Legend Airlines cited ongoing investigations.
Authorities isolated around 300 Indian citizens at a French airport for a third day during an investigation into suspected human trafficking. According to a lawyer for the small Romania-based airline, they questioned and released the 15 crew members of the Legend Airlines charter flight en route from the United Arab Emirates to Nicaragua.
Legal consequences and further investigation
French law punishes organized human trafficking with up to 20 years in prison and fines of $3.3 million.
Appropriate government agencies have transferred the minors on the plane for care.
All adult passengers have undergone questioning by French authorities.
The Paris Prosecutor’s Office stated that they are questioning two passengers in police custody to determine their motive. The investigation hopes to unveil whether their role in the transport differed from that of the others, also exploring the conditions and purpose.