• Saturday, February 24, 2024

EUROPE

25 Indian passengers from plane held in France freed

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

TWENTY-FIVE Indian passengers from a plane grounded in France on suspicion of human trafficking have been released by a judge, prosecutors said Wednesday (27).

The judge ordered their release on formal grounds, considering that the head of the border police at France’s main Charles De Gaulle airport “had not referred the case to him” within the timeframe stipulated by law, prosecutors said.

“They are therefore free to do as they please, even if they are in an irregular situation on French territory,” the Bobigny public prosecutor’s office said.

The 25, who had applied for political asylum in France, were freed on Tuesday (26).

Five of them, who were minors, were taken into care of child welfare services.

The 25 people were among 303 passengers who boarded a plane operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines in Dubai.

They had hoped to reach Nicaragua, but a refuelling stopover at Vatry airport in northeastern France on December 21 resulted in the plane being grounded for four days after an anonymous tipoff.

The charge of human trafficking was dropped after it was established the passengers had boarded the plane of their own free will.

Among those staying behind in France were two people questioned by police over suspected people trafficking.

The plane carrying the remaining 276 people landed back in India on Tuesday.

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