Boy smuggled into Spain in suitcase to be reunited with mother

Eight-year-old Adou Ouattara has been staying at a centre for underage migrants in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa, since police found him on May 7 curled up and covered inside a suitcase without air vents at a border checkpoint in
Eight-year-old Adou Ouattara has been staying at a centre for underage migrants in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa, since police found him on May 7 curled up and covered inside a suitcase without air vents at a border checkpoint in the territory. -- PHOTO: AFP

MADRID (AFP) - An African boy found inside a suitcase at a Spanish border crossing will be reunited with his mother since DNA tests proved the two are related, the family's lawyer said on Friday.

Eight-year-old Adou Ouattara has been staying at a centre for underage migrants in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa, since police found him on May 7 curled up and covered inside a suitcase without air vents at a border checkpoint in the territory.

The suitcase was being taken through a pedestrian border crossing by a 19-year-old woman, whose identity has not been released, when a border security scanner detected the boy inside.

Several hours after the youngster was detected, his father Ali Ouattara, who is from the Ivory Coast, was arrested at the same border crossing on charges of human rights abuse, for trying to have the boy smuggled into the country.

"We are going to get the boy on Monday," the family's lawyer Juan Isidro Fernandez Diaz, told AFP.

Officials last month granted Adou authorisation to live in Spain for one year and were waiting for results of DNA tests before turning him over to his mother Lucie Ouattara, who lives legally in Spain's Canary Islands off the Moroccan coast.

She moved to Spain from the Ivory Coast last year to join the boy's father, who was already living legally in the Canary Islands.

She brought along their 11-year-old daughter but left Adou behind with his grandmother and brother in the town of Assuefry in the north-east of the Ivory Coast.

After the grandmother died in 2014, Ali requested a residency permit in Spain for Adou, the lawyer said.

But the request for family reunification was declined because his monthly income fell 58 euros (S$87) short of the 1,333 euros required by law.

Each year, thousands of migrants risk their lives trying to enter Ceuta and Melilla, another Spanish territory bordering Morocco, in search of a better life in Europe.

Many Africans try to scramble over the 7-metre fences that separate the Spanish cities from Morocco.

Others smuggle themselves over the border hidden in vehicles and cargoes, or try to swim or sail from shores on the Moroccan side.