‘Suitcase boy’ reunited with mother after leaving custody in Ceuta

Family now set to meet up with father, who faces charges for smuggling his son into Spain

Adou hugs his mother in Ceuta on Monday.
Adou hugs his mother in Ceuta on Monday.Joaquín Sánchez

This time around the bag was full of new clothes and toys. Lucie Ouattara, the mother of the eight-year-old boy from Ivory Coast who made international headlines when his father tried to sneak him across the border into Spain inside a suitcase, could not hold back her tears when she was reunited with her son on Monday.

The meeting took place at a holding center in the Spanish exclave of Ceuta, north Africa, where Adou had been staying for nearly a month under the protection of local government officials.

The Spanish government has given the boy a temporary residency permit.

Mother and son departed for Algeciras where they were expected to meet up with the father

Ouattara was able to pick Adou up at around 1pm. The two left holding a small suitcase filled with clothes and toys that had been donated by his carers at the center.

Mother and son departed on a ferry for Algeciras where they were expected to meet up with his father.

Just two hours prior to collecting her son, Lucie Ouattara deposited a €5,000 bail bond with a Ceuta court to allow her husband to temporarily leave the prison where he is being held for allegedly violating immigration laws.

Ali Ouattara, who has lived on the Canary Island of Fuerteventura for the past nine years, told a judge following his arrest on May 7 that he had not been allowed to bring his son, Adou, to Spain because he could not demonstrate that he earned the required €1,331 a month that would enable him to do so under Spanish law. Instead he earned €1,290 a month, he said.

Civil Guard officers found Abou curled up inside the suitcase.
Civil Guard officers found Abou curled up inside the suitcase.Civil Guard

Ali Ouattara, who was arrested by Civil Guard authorities as soon as he made the crossing at Tarajal in Ceuta, had initially been placed in a detention center in the Spanish exclave but was later transferred to a prison in Seville because of lack of space.

The image of Adou inside the suitcase was published around the world. The Civil Guard found the boy after putting the bag through a security scanner.

The Ouattara family has been receiving financial help from the NGO Spanish Immigration Network. “We have even received a donation of €12,000 from a German family,” said the organization’s vice-president David Fernández.

Originally from Ivory Coast, the family had previously tried to bring their son to Spain legally

DNA results from last week concluded that Lucie and Adou are mother and son. Originally from the Ivory Coast, the family lives in Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura, and had previously tried to bring their son to Spain legally. The family regrouping petition they filed with the Canary Islands government was rejected because of the difference between the minimum required amount and the father’s salary.

“The salaries submitted do not meet the required amount to support four members of one family, which is €1,331 a month,” reads the rejection letter signed by Ana Martín Martín, the head of the islands’ immigration office.

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