Earlier this month, border patrol officials in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in North Africa made a shocking discovery when a suitcase scanner revealed a small boy curled up tightly inside of a roller bag.
As the child realized he’d been found out, he “poked his head out and said, in French, ‘Hello, my name is Abou,'” reported the Independent.
The 8-year-old boy, Abou from the Ivory Coast, was found in perfect condition inside a pink suitcase belonging to a Moroccan woman, whose name has not been released, as she crossed the border.
The father was intercepted later and admitted the boy was his son, according to Spanish News Today. His lawyer said that while the father had indeed paid to have his son brought across the border, he did not know he would be packed in a suitcase. Both the Moroccan woman and the boy’s father, Ali Ouattara, have been in custody since Abou was discovered.
The father’s lawyer, Fernández Díaz, spoke with the New York Times by phone this week. “Do you think any father would really allow his son to travel in a suitcase?” he told the Times.
Ouattara, who according to Díaz lives legally on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura, had applied for his son to join him but his application had been rejected because Fuerteventura’s salary did not meet the minimum required by Spanish law.
Ouattara then went to Casablanca seeking another way to get his son into Spanish territory, paid for a visa and was under the impression that Abou would cross the border with it. “He is just another victim of the mafias,” Díaz told the Times, referring to Africa’s human trafficking networks.
The shocking scanner image of Abou inside the suitcase underscored the desperation of thousands of African migrants who have embarked on sometimes deadly journeys in search of refuge in Europe.
Díaz, who attended a court hearing in Ceuta on Monday, said that he is confident that Ouattara will soon be released on bail. Díaz reiterated to The Times that Abou’s father had no clue who tried to smuggle his son,” Díaz said “All I know is that my client thought it would be done legally, with a valid visa, and not in such an illegal way.”
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