Juan Isidro Fernández Díaz, lawyer to Ali Ouattara, father, whose son was smuggled to Spain in a suitcase, claims his client didn’t know about the fate that befell his as he was a victim of the mafia controlling human trafficking in Africa
| By Raphael Minder | May 20, 2015 @ 12:40 GMT |
THE father of an African boy who tried to enter Spanish territory inside a suitcase said he got caught up with smugglers because his salary fell just “a few euros” short of the legal minimum required to apply for his son’s residency in Spain, according to his lawyer.
The father, Ali Ouattara, has been in police custody since his eight-year-old son, Abou, was discovered by the police inside a suitcase on May 7, at a border checkpoint in Ceuta, one of two Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
A picture of the boy curled up inside the suitcase, taken from the border security scanner, was a shocking reminder of the plight of thousands of Africans who have been seeking to enter Europe, mostly by boat but also by trying to climb over the fences that surround the Spanish enclaves.
Ouattara, who is from Ivory Coast, has been working in a launderette on the Spanish island of Fuerteventura for the past seven years, living there legally with his wife and daughter, his lawyer, Juan Isidro Fernández Díaz, said Tuesday.
He had tried to get his son to join the family but found that his normal application was rejected because his monthly salary fell shy of 1,331 euros, about $1,480, which is the minimum required to apply under Spanish law, Fernández Díaz said.
The lawyer said in a phone interview that his client had then gone to Casablanca, Morocco, to find an alternative way to bring his son into Spain, by buying a visa there.
Ouattara, the lawyer said, believed that his son would be brought into Ceuta by crossing the border with his Ivory Coast passport and the visa, for which he paid €5,000.
“Do you think any father would really allow his son to travel in a suitcase?” the lawyer asked. “He is just another victim of the mafias” that control Africa’s human trafficking networks.
The lawyer said he was confident that his client would be released on bail “in coming days” and called for the family to be reunited as soon as possible. Fernández Díaz, who is based in Seville, Spain, made his arguments during a court hearing in Ceuta on Monday. The details of the case were not made public by the authorities as they are part of a continuing investigation.
The boy, Abou, is “in perfect condition” in a center for underage migrants in Ceuta, the lawyer said. On Monday, Abou was also briefly reunited with his mother, who flew in from Fuerteventura. “It was all very emotional,” the lawyer said.
Abou was discovered inside a wheeled suitcase that was being taken across a security checkpoint by a young Moroccan woman, whose identity has not been disclosed by the Spanish police.
Fernández Díaz said that he had no idea who was in charge of the attempt to smuggle Abou into Ceuta. “All I know is that my client thought it would be done legally, with a valid visa, and not in such an illegal way,” he said.
Spain has tightened its own security around its two enclaves and reinforced its border fences. The cooperation between its border police and Morocco has also been instrumental in ensuring that the flow of illegal migrants has recently been relatively limited compared to the amount of Africans who have tried to reach Italy by boat from Libya. Hundreds of those migrants have died en route.
Culled from NewYork Times