A desperate Moroccan father who was caught trying to smuggle his daughter into Spain by hiding her in his luggage has been told she can stay in the country.
Customs officials found eight-year-old Haniya Kanaan curled up inside a small suitcase after her single father Ayham, 38, entered Spain on a legal work permit through the Andalusian port of Tarifa.
Although Kanaan faces a fine for trying to smuggle his daughter into the country in the hope of giving her a better life, a judge has ruled that she can live with her father for as long as he works in Spain, adding that she will also be allowed to enrol at a local school.
Hidden: Spanish customs officers were shocked to discover eight-year-old Haniya Kanaan curled up inside the suitcase. The found her while searching a vehicle driven by her father Ayham at the port of Tarifa
Relief: Although Ayham Kanaan faces a fine for trying to smuggle Haniya into Spain in the hope of giving her a better life, a judge has ruled that she can live with her father for as long as he works in the country
Customs officers were shocked to find the little girl hidden inside a suitcase while searching her father’s car following his return to Spain after a family visit to Morocco.
Haniya was discovered curled up inside a purple suitcase on the back seat of the vehicle.BUSTED
The eight-year-old was taken to hospital after being released from the luggage, with doctors saying she was lucky to be alive following the dangerous stunt.
They said she could easily have been left with brain damage after being shut in the suitcase, and had already started showing physical signs of a lack of oxygen.
Had there been delays at the border crossing, it is possible she may even have died.
Concern: After being discovered the eight-year-old was immediately taken to hospital, where doctors said she was lucky to be alive following the dangerous stunt.
Lucky: Doctors said Haniya could easily have been left with serious brain damage while shut in the suitcase, and had already started showing signs of a lack of oxygen
Kanaan was arrested while still at the port in the town of Tarifa, which is on the coast of southern Spain and has regular ferry services to and from North Africa.
A Spanish police spokesman said: ‘The father is a single dad who had a work permit for Spain, but he didn’t want to leave his child behind and didn’t know how to get his daughter into the country, so decided to smuggle her in.
‘In the end, however, after a speedy process, an emergency judge decided that actually the girl was entitled to join her father and the pair were allowed to continue on their way,’ he added.
‘This time, of course, with the girl legally allowed into the country,’ the spokesman went on to say.
Haniya will now be allowed to enrol in the Spanish school system where she can stay for as long as her father works in the country.
Kanaan has reportedly been told he faces a fine for trying to smuggle his daughter into Spain illegally, but that there are unlikely to be any other punishments.