The father of a boy who was hidden inside a suitcase in an attempt to smuggle him into Europe has been allowed to walk free from court.
Adou was just eight years old when a shocked border official spotted his figure – crushed into the fetal position – on an X-ray at the border of Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta in May 2015.
His father Ali Ouattara, 45, (pictured below) was waiting on the other side, having been promised by the smugglers that his son was being brought from his home in the Ivory Coast to Europe by car.
Attempts to have their son join them in Spain legally failed, Mr Ouattara explained, and after Adou’s grandmother died, leaving him with just his 18-year-old brother, the family had resorted to paying a criminal gang 5,000 euros ($6,200; £4,400).
But after Adou was found inside the suitcase, the one-time French and philosophy teacher faced charges of facilitating his son’s illegal entry into Europe and threatening the child’s life.
Prosecutors were hoping for a three-year jail sentence, and the cruelty – and danger – of making the crossing this way was not lost on judge Fernando Teson.
“The child’s life was endangered, he was inhumanly curled up in a tiny suitcase, without ventilation,” he told the court in Ceuta, according to news agency AFP.
However, it was 10-year-old Adou’s testimony which saved his father from a long sentence.
The little boy said a “Moroccan girl” forced him into the suitcase, which made it difficult for him to breathe.
But Adou said Mr Ouattara – who has spent a month in prison – had always told him the journey would be made “by car” – and the court could find no evidence the family had known any different.
Mr Ouattara was ordered to pay a 92 euro ($114) fine, but could walk free.
“It’s all over and we can begin to resume out lives, together, my wife, my daughter my son and I,” he said, revealing the family would start a new life in northern Spain.