MADRID (AP) — An 8-year-old Ivory Coast boy caught being smuggled into Spain in a suitcase last month was reunited Monday with his mother.
A statement from the city of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in North Africa, said Adou Ouattara was returned to his mother at a youth center where he has been cared for since border police discovered him May 7 in the suitcase of a Moroccan woman.
Police images of the scanned case shocked many and highlighted the harrowing plight of migrants trying to reach Europe.
The boy’s father, who lives legally with the mother in Spain, was arrested hours after the boy was discovered and remains jailed on rights abuse charges for trying to have him smuggled into the country. Through his lawyer, the father has said he knew nothing of the suitcase plan, believing his son was to be brought in by car with a visa he had paid for.
The Moroccan woman, who was unrelated to the boy, has also been detained.
Spanish authorities allowed the mother to take custody of the boy after DNA tests proved they were related.
The mother and the boy were accompanied by lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, who said they had paid the father’s bail and hoped he would be released soon.
The father has been living legally on the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura for seven years. His Ivory Coast wife had joined him and they were trying to bring over two of their children.
His lawyer said an 11-year-old daughter was allowed in recently but Ouattara’s monthly salary fell short of the amount authorities required to care for two children. It was then that the father bought the visa.
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