The plane grounded in Vatry due to suspicions of human trafficking took off again towards India

The plane, which has been immobilized since Thursday at Vatry airport (Marne), took off again on Monday, December 25 at 2:35 p

The plane grounded in Vatry due to suspicions of human trafficking took off again towards India

The plane, which has been immobilized since Thursday at Vatry airport (Marne), took off again on Monday, December 25 at 2:35 p.m. for Bombay, with 276 Indian passengers on board out of the initial 303, the two passengers suspected of being smugglers having for their part were left free by the courts.

In addition to these two Indians, twenty-five others, including two minors, remain for the moment in France after having made an asylum request, which will be analyzed at Charles-de-Gaulle airport, said the Marne prefecture. in a press release.

The Airbus A340 of the small Romanian company Legend Airlines, blocked at Vatry airport (Marne) since Thursday afternoon following suspicions of human trafficking, flew to Bombay, a- she clarified.

The two Indians suspected of being smugglers, born in 2000 and 1984, were not indicted, but placed under the more favorable status of assisted witnesses and therefore emerged free on Monday after their interrogation before an investigating judge Parisian. The Paris prosecutor's office had requested their placement in pre-trial detention.

Me Salomé Cohen, lawyer for one of the two accused, praised to Agence France-Presse (AFP) “the extremely precise and careful reading of the investigating judge who was able to get rid of the media coverage of this case ".

A judicial investigation for assistance in the entry and illegal stay of foreigners in the territory in organized gangs and participation in a criminal association was opened by the National Jurisdiction for the Fight against Organized Crime (Junalco), said the prosecution. .

An anonymous report

The classification of human trafficking by an organized gang was not accepted at this stage, because the 303 Indians would have voluntarily boarded this plane, according to a source close to the matter. The courts lifted the seizure of the aircraft on Sunday, and the authorities then endeavored to “obtain the necessary authorizations” for its re-takeoff.

Boarding took several hours. The flight attendants boarded around midday, then passengers, some wearing turbans, arrived in clusters, aboard buses, and boarded via a covered ramp.

The plane was initially only supposed to make a technical stopover of one hour in Vatry, time to refuel on its journey linking Dubai (United Arab Emirates) to Managua, capital of Nicaragua, where passengers were heard by the courts on Sunday said they wanted to go for a tourist trip.

But he was immobilized following an “anonymous report” according to which passengers were “likely to be victims of human trafficking” in an organized gang, the Paris prosecutor’s office explained to AFP on Friday.

The legality of the procedure called into question

According to a source close to the matter, these Indians, probably workers in the United Arab Emirates, could have planned to go to Central America in order to then try to enter the United States or Canada illegally.

“We don’t know if it’s human trafficking, migrant smuggling or neither… But we were still kept in an airport, for three nights and three days, 303 people who were on a stopover, men, women and children. It’s surprising,” Geneviève Colas, coordinator for Secours catholique-Caritas of the Collective Against Human Trafficking, reacted to AFP on Sunday. “If they are really victims of trafficking, it is not normal to simply send them back to another country,” Ms. Colas said.

According to the Marne prefecture, individual beds, toilets and showers had been installed in the waiting area of ​​the airport, created from scratch to deal with this unprecedented situation. The President of Châlons-en-Champagne, Me François Procureur, was concerned on Sunday about “problems of cramped conditions and poor living conditions”.

Justice had questioned on Sunday the legality of the procedure keeping the passengers in this waiting area, deeming it illegal for the first three passengers interviewed by a judge of freedoms and detention.