Plane held for days in France on trafficking concerns lands in India

A plane that had been grounded in France for days over concerns its roughly 300 mostly Indian passengers were part of a human trafficking scheme landed in Mumbai early Tuesday.

The Airbus A340 initially had been bound for Nicaragua when it was detained last Thursday at Vatry airport, east of Paris, where it had stopped for refuelling.

It had arrived from Dubai and there was an anonymous tip-off that it was carrying potential victims of human trafficking.

Of the original 303 people on the passenger list, 276 were on the plane that took off Monday afternoon, arriving in Mumbai after a nearly nine-hour flight.

A senior airport official, who was not authorised to speak to journalists, confirmed the flight had landed at 4:00 am time Tuesday (2230 GMT Monday).

There was no official Indian statement on the arrival or details of when the passengers would be allowed to leave the airport.

Among those staying behind were two people questioned by French police over suspected people trafficking, but a judicial source said they were released after it was established the passengers had boarded the plane of their own free will.

The French authorities are continuing to investigate the case for a potential violation of immigration laws, but no longer for people trafficking, judicial sources said.

The suspects' release came because "the investigating judge was able to resist media pressure in this case", said their lawyer, Salome Cohen.

The pair have received an expulsion order from France, their lawyers said.

The other 25 people have sought asylum in France, the prefecture said. Five of them are minors, it said, updating an earlier figure of two.

Their applications will be processed at Charles de Gaulle...

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